Zondo vs Zuma: why no arrest when Zuma left without permission?
Adv Stefanie Fick, Executive Director of OUTA’s Accountability Division, shares her view
OUTA welcomes the recent decision by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to lay a criminal charge against former president Jacob Zuma for leaving the Commission into State Capture on 19 November after the former president’s recusal application failed.
It was clear that Jacob Zuma’s actions amounted to contempt and showed a blatant disrespect for the commission. As Judge Zondo stated in his ruling, all are equal before the law. Mr Zuma had no right to walk out without permission, but this was yet another prime example of his reluctance to answer any questions related to his alleged improper conduct.
As an activist organisation, we would have liked to see immediate action, like a warrant of arrest, to secure the former president’s attendance. This would put the Commission in a position to continue with its investigations into the allegations of state capture and the involvement of the former President.
In terms of the Commissions Act, a commission shall have the same powers which a Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa has within its province to summon witnesses. In terms of the Superior Court Act, whenever any person subpoenaed to attend any proceedings as a witness without leave of the court fails to attend (or fail to remain in attendance) the court concerned may issue a warrant directing that he or she be arrested and brought before the court at a time and place stated in the warrant or as soon thereafter as possible.
Shouldn’t the Zondo commission be able to secure the attendance of its witnesses like any other court? Will this not make the commission’s job easier? We believe so.
However, the decision to lay criminal charges is still very good news. In terms of the Commissions Act, it is an offence to insult, disparage or belittle the chairperson or any member of the commission or prejudice the inquiry or proceedings or findings of the commission. It is also an offence not to remain in attendance after being summonsed to appear as a witness.
We at OUTA – and all citizens eager to see action against those who sold out our country – are looking forward to the NPA and SAPS dealing with this matter expeditiously.
The OUTA team thank DCJ Zondo for dealing with former president Zuma without fear or favour.