The chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has dismissed the application of former Correctional Services commissioner Arthur Fraser to cross-examine certain witnesses.
Zondo vs Fraser
In October, Fraser claimed in a letter that he was never given a chance to give evidence before Zondo to defend himself against witnesses who had implicated him at the commission.
“The fact that in three and a half years, Deputy Chief Justice Zondo did not even find a day for me to testify, demonstrates his lack of impartiality,” wrote Fraser on why Zondo should not be appointed as chief justice.
The commission, however, has rubbished his claims, saying Fraser has never come forward despite public invitations by the commission between February 2018 and 2020.
It pointed out that they contacted Fraser’s attorney in August last year following his statements that he would disclose secrets about presidents and judges.
His attorney was allegedly uncooperative and told the commission’s investigators that he would use his “own channels and methods” to share the information.
In April this year, the former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general failed to arrive for his testimony.
Fraser’s attorney indicated at the time that he sought the disclosure and declassification of certain documents from SSA officials so he could testify at the commission.
“I stressed that my statement is incomplete without the documents I seek,” Fraser said in his affidavit.
Fraser was implicated in wrongdoing by some witnesses during their testimonies, specifically about the R600 million Principal Agent Network (PAN), among other accusations.
Failed to comply
During a media briefing on Wednesday, 1 December, Zondo indicated that Fraser lodged his application on 9 March this year.
Zondo said he did not understand why Fraser went ahead with an order to compel the SSA to grant him the documents he wanted, despite an email suggesting that the agency was willing to give him access to the documents. However, the access was contingent on Fraser complying with chapter 27 of the Intelligence Services Act.
“The reason why the applicant was not furnished with the documents he wanted from the [SSA] is that he failed to comply with the regulations that he had agreed to comply with and he has failed to do what is necessary for him to do in order to obtain the documents,” Zondo explained.
The chair said even though time had lapsed for him to testify at the commission, it still invited Fraser to cooperate with its investigations.
Earlier, Zondo said it had been made clear to Fraser that there was no guarantee he could testify even after accessing SSA documents due to the commission’s time constraints.
The commission is expected to finalise the state capture report and hand it over to President Cyril Ramaphosa by the end of this year.
This after the commission was in September granted a three-month extension by the Pretoria High Court.
It was the fifth extension that had been granted to the commission since its establishment in 2018.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola confirmed that 1 January 2022 is the date the final report should be with the president.
Meanwhile, Zondo previously revealed that the commission had collected 71,000 pages in submissions from more than 300 witnesses ever since the inquiry began its work.
He said there would not be a provisional report of the commission, saying only a final report would be released.
Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde