The Hawks are now investigating the matter of former president Jacob Zuma’s bolt from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
In November last year, after the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, delivered his ruling dismissing Zuma’s application for the commission’s chair to recuse himself from the proceedings, the former president’s legal counsel, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, said they would excuse themselves from the proceedings to consider Zondo’s judgment.
However, the commission’s advocate Paul Pretorius pointed out that if Zuma excused himself from the commission without Zondo’s permission he would be acting unlawfully and in defiance of the summons for him to appear at the inquiry.
On the day, Zondo was notified after the tea break that Zuma had left the commission, which left him dismayed, saying it was a “serious matter”.
A couple of days later, Zondo announced that a criminal charge would be laid against Zuma for his walkout from the commission.
Hawks spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase, confirmed on Tuesday that a case of contravening the Commissions Act was opened at the Hillbrow Police Station and that the matter has been referred to the Hawks.
Nkwalase said the “prominent state capture witness” at the centre of the investigation has not been charged, however, and has not appeared in court and so cannot be named at this stage.
Nkwalase said the investigation was ongoing.
Zuma’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, said: “We will wait for the charges to come. We don’t know if they will charge. It’s just an investigation for now.”
Zuma could be subjected to a penalty or the commission could obtain a warrant of arrest against him after he left the commission’s proceedings without asking for Zondo’s permission.
The Commissions Act dates back to 1947 and outlines the penalty for such a contravention at £50, which would have to be converted to determine the penalty Zuma could be subjected too, and it stipulates that contravention could result in imprisonment of six months.