Zondo furious at own goal by state capture inquiry legal team in Anoj Singh summons
The Zondo commission legal team has committed an own goal that has brought a temporary reprieve from accountability for former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh.
And the commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, is furious about it.
The bungle led to Zondo granting a postponement of Singh's testimony scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
This because the legal team, in the summons it issued to Singh for his appearance, cited an affidavit that Singh had “submitted”, which did not exist and still does not exist.
According to Zondo, it would be unjust to expect Singh to testify on a non-existent affidavit.
Eskom workstream evidence leader advocate Pule Seleka struggled to explain the wording in the summons.
“I have looked at this summons, it says he (Singh) is directed to appear before the commission today for the purpose of giving evidence before the commission and 'being questioned on the affidavit that you have submitted to the commission and the issues arising or relating thereto'," said Zondo, browsing through the summons.
“Now, what affidavit was the legal team talking about there?”
Seleka attempted to respond: “Chair, that is a very important question. But I want to read from the letter that we addressed to him because ...”
This was before Zondo interjected — insisting “let us talk about the summons first because I am asking what affidavit was the legal team talking about?”
Seleka said: “At that stage chairperson, he had not filed the affidavit but it was expected from him the day after summons was served.”
Zondo was having none of it: “So the summons was talking about a non-existent affidavit?”, to which Seleka admitted that “it was talking about an affidavit that had not been given”.
Zondo pressed hard: “Does that not make the summons defective?”
Seleka replied: “I believe there was an undertaking that the affidavit would be given on December 18 and the summons was served on December 17.”
“How does that help if at the time the summons was issued it said he (Singh) must come and testify about a non-existent affidavit?” Zondo asked.
The judge then launched into a lengthy venting against the legal team.
“How do I insist that he (Singh) must give evidence today when the summons told him to come and testify about a non-existent affidavit?” asked Zondo.
“You (Seleka), as the leader, should not have authorised your team to give the secretariat a summons to sign which said Mr Singh must appear to give evidence on an affidavit that you had not seen.
“In the first point, the summons should not have referred to any affidavit by him. You and your team ought to have known what the issues were that you wanted him to testify about and those could have been listed under an annexure,” Zondo went on.
“This summons, as far as I am concerned, is fatally defective.”
Seleka then blamed the “workload,” saying not everything in his work stream had his eye, an excuse Zondo dismissed.
Zondo then postponed Singh's testimony for a date yet to be determined and ordered that he submit a comprehensive affidavit by close of business next Monday.
Wednesday was not the first time that Seleka had found himself in hot water this week. On Tuesday, another former Eskom executive, Matshela Koko, complained to Zondo that Seleka was refusing to share information with him.
Zondo instructed Seleka to give Koko all the information he had requested from the commission.