State capture inquiry gears up for night shift in judge vs judge showdown
The chair of the state capture inquiry, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, granted an application on Wednesday to postpone the hearing of Free State human settlements head of department, Nthimose Mokhesi.
The postponement was one of many granted by Zondo to witnesses since the commission resumed in June after a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mokhesi's lawyer, Rhyn Fouche, told the commission his client was unable to testify on Wednesday after being dumped by the state attorney in the Free State in July.
Zondo granted the postponement and adjourned until 5pm, when the first night shift hearings of the inquiry are expected to convene with judge Nana Makhubele in the hot seat.
Fouche motivated for the postponement of Mokhesi's testimony: “Mr Mokhesi was represented by the state attorney of the Free State until the end of June, when there were signs they might withdraw from assisting him, which they confirmed on July 17.
“Even after that confirmation, it only came to his attention on July 20. On July 27 the commission sent an e-mail to Mr Mokhesi making him aware of today’s appearance.
“After that he obtained legal representation, but at the moment I am playing as a substitute in the last minutes of this game, and I am not aware of the background of this investigation as I only consulted with him this morning.
“Mr Mokhesi is not in a position to testify today. Chairperson, we are seeking your indulgence for two weeks, if possible.”
Fouche said the senior counsel who was briefed on the matter, advocate Mike Helens SC, recently tested positive for Covid-19 and could not appear at the inquiry as he was recovering.
The inquiry's legal team did not oppose the application, and Zondo granted it for a date yet to be determined.
Zondo said he granted the application as Mokhesi had demonstrated his commitment to co-operate.
The inquiry will resume at 5pm to hear the evidence of former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) chairperson Makhubele, who is now a high court judge in Gauteng.
Makhubele had been giving the inquiry the runaround with two days on which she was meant to testify having gone to waste, much to Zondo's dissatisfaction.
The night shift hearings have been introduced by Zondo to save time since the inquiry is “pressed for time” to finish its business.