The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) has told the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that it is at the discretion of the chair of the commission of inquiry into state capture to amend the terms of reference.
“Casac’s position on the chair’s (Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo) options, you approach the president to confine the terms of reference: It does not require an amendment, it is in the chair’s discretion,” advocate Michelle le Roux argued on Tuesday.
The court heard an urgent application to extend the lifespan of the commission from March to December 2020.
Le Roux responded to counsel’s earlier argument on behalf of the commission that the chair had two possible solutions that could confine the work of the commission and ensure its hearings are completed by December 2020.
The two options were approaching the president for an amendment of the terms of reference or referring evidence to other bodies.
“On the second option, Casac submits that this is something that could be happening everyday at the commission. You do not need to wait until the end for a report. This is also something that could enhance public confidence in the commission,” Le Roux argued.
“The commission is not the only body that needs to investigate what happens over the decades. The commission is not alone in investigating corruption. These other bodies can obtain the resources and skills to complete the work,” she added.
While Casac insisted that it is in full support of the work of the commission and the request for a 10-month extension, it submitted there should be a time frame for the extension.
“The commission is requesting a term to complete its work and produce a report – that is what the chairperson has asked for. It is not Casac’s invention that that is a final extension. We are here to support the work of the commission. We just say that it needs a definite time frame,” Le Roux explained.
Le Roux added that the uncertainty of the time frame and a lack of interim reports from the commission is the reason why Casac was seeking a definite time frame.
The commission has cost taxpayers approximately R356 million since it officially started on August 20, 2018 and has heard allegations from a long list of witnesses. It has sat for more than 190 days, the transcripts of evidence recorded are more than 27 000 pages long and there are more than 450 000 pages of exhibits including statements etc. – and counting, News24 reported.
Judgment was reserved.