Guptas are scared to return to SA for state capture inquiry

06 September 2018 - 14:18 By Karyn Maughan
Ajay Gupta’s advocate Mike Hellens during a break in the state capture inquiry on September 6, 2018, in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Ajay Gupta’s advocate Mike Hellens during a break in the state capture inquiry on September 6, 2018, in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Image: Alon Skuy

Former president Jacob Zuma’s son‚ Duduzane‚ does not want to testify at the State Capture Inquiry – because he’s facing a corruption case linked to the evidence that implicates him.

Duduzane’s lawyer‚ Dawie Joubert‚ has revealed that he is “so disappointed in being treated in the way that he was treated” in his criminal prosecution for allegedly being involved in an alleged Gupta family bid to bribe former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Duduzane maintains he was unlawfully arrested‚ and says Jonas has not laid any charges against him. Joubert maintains that this is clear evidence that Zuma Junior has been unfairly treated.

But Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was not convinced. He pointed out that Duduzane had provided a sworn statement detailing his response to Jonas’s evidence‚ and questioned why he would not be prepared to testify about what he’d previously stated under oath.

“He has told us his version and all that would remain is that he may be asked to help this commission to establish the truth‚” Zondo said. “I’m just concerned that in these circumstances‚ if he would have a lawful reason to refuse if he would be summoned to appear before the commission…

“Why should there be some people who don’t seem to want to let what happens to everyone happen to themselves as well‚ subject themselves to the same rules as everybody in the country are subjected to?”

Duduzane’s complaints echoed those of Ajay Gupta’s lawyer‚ who has slammed the Hawks and South African Police as “recklessly incompetent and a national embarrassment”.

“We have no clarity whether they are fugitives from justice‚” Ajay’s advocate‚ Mike Hellens SC‚ argued on Thursday morning‚ adding that Ajay “did not flee the country knowing there was a warrant”.

Zondo has questioned the Gupta family’s argument that they would only be prepared to give evidence to the commission overseas or via video link.

“They say ‘we will participate‚ but on our terms’‚” Zondo said.

He further questioned‚ whether if the Guptas were fugitives‚ that would either preclude them from giving evidence‚ or would be a factor in how their evidence was dealt with.

Hellens responded that this issue would be something Zondo would have to consider before deciding whether to allow them to cross-examine state capture inquiry witnesses‚ but stressed that Zondo needed to consider “the pursuit of truth” before making such a decision.

Zondo seemed unimpressed by Hellens’s argument that the Hawks “reckless incompetence” and alleged abuse of power was a justifiable basis for the family not to return to South Africa. Hellens pointed to the state’s multiple failed efforts to seize Gupta assets as proceeds of crime as evidence of its incompetence and “lack of integrity”.

“What I’m getting from you is they are scared to come back and be arrested‚” Zondo said.

Zondo added that if the Hawks and the NPA were as incompetent as the Guptas claimed‚ then the family could approach the courts to challenge their arrests‚ if they were arrested.

Zondo further suggested that the Guptas could be accused of wilfully taking themselves out of the jurisdiction of the commission.

“Is it your submission that your clients have a lawful reason not to come back to South Africa?” Zondo asked Hellens.

Hellens responded that the Guptas had a “reasonable apprehension” that they would be subjected to the “reckless incompetence” of the Hawks if they came back to South Africa.