The chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on Thursday granted an application for a postponement to hear the testimony of Colonel Welcome Mhlongo, who is implicated in the plot to oust former National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) boss Mxolisi Nxasana.
Last year, the commission heard that Nxasana had received an affidavit from a national prosecuting authority (NPA) official, Terence Joubert, which spoke of an alleged plot by advocate Nomgcobo Jiba to have him ousted.
The commission further heard that Joubert had made a recording in which it is heard that Jiba had mandated Mhlongo to dig up dirt on Nxasana, which would be used to “embarrass” him so he would be ousted from the position of national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).
Mhlongo’s lawyer, M.E. Manala, told Zondo that his team had asked the commission for a recording in which his client is implicated of wrongdoing but they were told last Thursday, 23 July, that specific equipment would be required for them to listen to the recording. Manala said this request was made “sometime in September last year”.
He added that on either 9 or 10 July, they were given a transcribed account of what is said in the recording but they are of the view that it may not be verbatim and want to hear the recording for themselves.
Manala further said they were given Joubert’s third affidavit on Sunday. He said the third affidavit nullifies a second affidavit from 2016 which came after the first one which is from 2013 and that in the recent affidavit, Joubert goes back to stating that he relies on the first affidavit.
Manala said considering these reasons, the one pertaining to the recording and Joubert’s affidavit, his team needs time to reconsider its position hence an application was made to postpone Mhlongo’s testimony.
Zondo granted the application.
The commission heard that Joubert’s 2013 affidavit implicates Mhlongo in the plot to oust Nxasana and that Joubert had recorded Mhlongo.
Zondo on Thursday questioned the evidence leader at the commission, advocate Susan Wentzel, as to why the commission had not given Mhlongo the recording he requested at an earlier stage.
Wentzel said there had been confusion as to which recording Mhlongo’s legal team had requested, however, when it was determined which one they wanted, the commission became aware that it is not in possession of that specific recording.
Wentzel said that recording refers to the one former KZN Hawks boss Major-General (Ret) Johan Booysen mentions in his affidavit, which was a result of an application for monitoring and interception of communication in terms of section 18 of Act 70 of 2002.
Wentzel said this recording has “strict requirements” attached to it and that it relates to an investigation into Durban-based businessman Thoshan Panday.
Zondo reminded the commission’s legal team that it must be cognizant of the time constraints, prepare in advance, direct investigators and “you drive the process” to avoid further postponements.
With regards to Joubert’s third affidavit, Wentzel said the commission only received it on Saturday and “immediately” contacted Mhlongo’s lawyers.
The commission’s advocate Garth Hulley pointed out that the commission is not in possession of the recording relating to the Panday matter but only has the transcript and that specific equipment is required to listen to the recording. However, he said Mhlongo’s lawyers can be granted an opportunity to listen to the recording.