The chair of the commission of inquiry into state capture Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Raymond Zondo believes two possible solutions would confine the work of the commission and ensure that its hearings are completed by December 2020, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has heard.
“DCJ Zondo has given careful consideration on how to deal with the issue and whether it is desirable for the commission to go beyond the original terms of reference (which he is bound by),” advocate Paul Kennedy SC argued on behalf of the commission.
“He can look at possible ways of limiting the commission’s work through asking the president to limit the terms of reference or the second option he considers without approaching the president is that in terms of the references he has the power to farm out specific aspects for investigation to other state institutions,” Kennedy further explained.
Zondo is yet to pronounce or commit to any of the options listed in the commission’s papers before court.
The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria was hearing an urgent application on Tuesday to extend the lifespan of the commission from March 2020 to December 2020.
“Why 10 months? There is a strong possibility that the chair will use one of the remedies, in that event – if the remaining work is confined to the Public Protector’s terms of reference, the estimate is that he would need 10 months.
“He believes he could at least finish the hearings by the end of the year and be under way with the report,” Kennedy submitted.
Counsel further stated that while Zondo is not currently at a stage where he had taken a definite decision, it is “highly likely that he will take one or the other soon”.
Judge Wendy Hughes probed counsel on whether a case has been made for the 10-month extension as there is a possibility that the commission could seek a further extension.
“What is my function then?” she asked.
Kennedy responded: “What we submit is that [that] is not quite the position that 10-months won’t be enough. What he says is that there is a certainty that he will not be able to complete the commission’s work in a month and he has explained the difficulty he has with the large scope of work that is met with the terms of reference. We would submit that that is a reasonable approach”.
The commission, which has cost taxpayers approximately R356m, officially started on August 20, 2018 and has heard damning allegations from a long list of witnesses.
The commission sat for more than 190 days, the transcript of evidence recorded is more than 27,000 pages and the exhibits including the statements etc. are more that 450,000 pages – and counting, News24 reported earlier.
The hearing continues.