Zondo directs former Prasa board chair to submit an affidavit and appear before him

The chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has directed that the former chairperson of the interim board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), Judge Tintswalo Makhubele submit an affidavit to the commission on or before the close of business on Wednesday, 29 July, and appear in person before him on Monday, 3 August.

This after Zondo on Friday heard an application from Judge Makhubele’s legal representative, G Shakoane, senior counsel, for a postponement of her testimony on the day, an application which the chair said has no merit.

Zondo said it was unfortunate that he found it necessary to issue a directive against a judge.

He said the postponement of Judge Makhubele’s testimony has caused the commission a lot of inconvenience, pointing out that through correspondence between her and the commission, she had indicated that she would be available to testify on Friday.

Zondo acknowledged that Judge Makhubele could not have anticipated that, according to Shakoane, the “tyre burst” she experienced on Thursday at around 7.30 pm resulted in an accident and thus she was “emotionally” unfit to appear before the commission either on Friday or Saturday.

The chair pointed out, however, that her application for a postponement had been planned before the incident on Thursday and all the grounds the application was based on before the accident “don’t reveal any merit whatsoever”.

Zondo further pointed out that the commission was working under “very serious time constraints … and it cannot afford to have postponements which can be avoided”.

Following inputs from Shakoane and the evidence leader at the commission, advocate Vas Soni, Zondo questioned the former whether he accepted that he had not been given an explanation as to why his client had since February failed to prepare an affidavit responding to allegations made at the commission by the group executive of legal risk and compliance at Prasa, Martha Ngoye, and another official at the agency, Fani Dingiswayo, among others, since she had been furnished with their affidavits and could ask for a transcript of their testimonies.

Zondo said as a judge, she could have prepared the affidavit herself, however, he acknowledged that she has a right to be legally represented.

“She has had ample time to do what needs to be done,” Zondo said.

GroundUp reported that in January 2019, #UnitedBehind lodged a complaint against Judge Makhubele with the Judicial Conduct Committee, which was referred to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal for “investigation and determination”.

The publication reported that according to the complaint, Makhubele engaged in “gross misconduct” during her tenure as chair of the interim board by allegedly being involved in the alleged disruption of the Siyaya litigation.

Siyaya is a company that scored contracts at Prasa, an entity linked to Makhensa Mabunda, one of the individuals Dingiswayo described during his recent testimony at the commission as “holy cows” linked to the agency’s former CEO, Lucky Montana, who had undue influence at Prasa, which was a concern.

Soni told Zondo that though he was not complaining but the approach Judge Makhubele has adopted in preparation for her testimony has been “a major task” and without an affidavit from her, leading evidence would have been “a very untidy affair”.

The commission adjourned on Friday and will resume on Monday, with former police minister Nathi Nhleko taking the witness stand.

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