Zondo reserves judgment on whether Guptas and Duduzane Zuma can cross-examine state capture witnesses
The Gupta brothers are yet to know whether they will be granted permission to cross-examine witnesses who implicated them in the state capture inquiry.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday reserved judgment on whether to grant their legal teams to do so on their behalf‚ including in the case of Duduzane Zuma‚ who initially wanted to testify but made a last minute made an about-turn.
"In regards to the three - Mr Ajay Gupta‚ Mr Rajesh Gupta and Mr Duduzane Zuma - I reserve judgment. Once I am ready to hand down the decision‚ I will let everybody know‚" said Zondo.
This followed advocate Mike Hellens‚ acting on behalf of all three‚ stating that they would only be prepared to give evidence to the commission overseas or via a video stream link.
Their argument was that they feared being arrested on their arrival in South Africa‚ as had happened to Duduzane when he had returned to the country for the burial of his younger brother‚ Vusi Zuma‚ who died of Lupus.
Duduzane‚ who is facing corruption charges and is out on R100 000 bail‚ said he no longer wanted to testify at the commission because he’s facing a corruption case linked to the evidence that implicates him.
However‚ Zondo said if the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were incompetent as the Gupta's claimed‚ the brothers could head to courts to challenge their arrest‚ if they were arrested.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor‚ former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former Government Communications and Informations System head Themba Maseko implicated the Gupta brothers as well as Duduzane.
Zondo however‚ granted former president Jacob Zuma's personal assistant Lakela Kaunda‚ ex arms deal consultant Fana Hlongwane and Hawks advocate Mandla Mtolo the right to cross-examine all the three key witnesses at the commission.
Advocate Vincent Maleka of the commissions’ legal team‚ said they had areas of concerns regarding the Gupta brothers’ and Duduzane's pleas.
"The issues arise for the first time in the heads of arguments‚ [but] not in the application made by any of the Gupta brothers. The issue is also conveyed to you under oath‚ it is conveyed to you through the mouth of the legal representatives‚" said Maleka.
"In circumstances where you don't have power to compel‚ what if‚ in the process of the testimony‚ they commit perjury?” he asked.
"We submit that the type of the undertaking through the heads of arguments by the Gupta brothers is not worth the pain because they may wake up and decide that they are not going to participate in the commission‚" Maleka said.
He further argued that there were cost implications to send the legal team of the commission abroad‚ and as things stood‚ financial resources were already scarce in the country.
"Even if we take that proposition on face value‚ we know that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'‚" said Maleka.
Zondo agreed and said it would be quite a "huge operation" because it meant that more money would be required.