State capture witness copies Zuma's arguments, says he won't testify

A sequel to the defiance of former president Jacob Zuma is unfolding at the state capture inquiry.

23 February 2021 - 18:46 By mawande amashabalala
Businessman Auswell Mashaba of Swifambo Rail Leasing has told the Zondo commission that he won't testify on Wednesday - and he used the same arguments as Jacob Zuma, pictured. File photo.
Businessman Auswell Mashaba of Swifambo Rail Leasing has told the Zondo commission that he won't testify on Wednesday - and he used the same arguments as Jacob Zuma, pictured. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Businessman Auswell Mashaba of Swifambo Rail Leasing may be the first person to follow in the footsteps of former president Jacob Zuma and refuse to comply with a summons issued by the Zondo commission.

This was revealed by evidence leader advocate Vas Soni on Tuesday.

Mashaba was summoned to appear at the commission on Wednesday to face questions about allegedly unduly benefiting to the tune of billions of rand under the leadership of Lucky Montana, the boss of Prasa.

However, said Soni, Mashaba unleashed his lawyers on the commission last Monday with a clear message — Andizi (I am not coming).

Soni and commission chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo found it intriguing that Mashaba's letter stating his intention to disregard the summons came minutes after hearings had adjourned on the day Zuma was meant to appear but was a no-show.

“It was on Monday last week, the same day that Mr Zuma was supposed to appear before the commission,” said Zondo.

Soni concurred: “Indeed chairperson and that is a point we raised in our response to his [Mashaba's] lawyers.”


Zondo took the opportunity to draw parallels between Zuma's manoeuvres and those of Mashaba.

“There had been a letter from Mr Zuma's attorneys that came in the previous Friday which for the first time raised the issue of summons being irregular without any substantiation. Then the attorneys for Mr Mashaba sent a letter to the commission not long after proceedings on Mr Zuma were adjourned and they too raised the issue that summons was irregular and that Mr Mashaba would not appear.

“And just like Mr Zuma's attorneys, Mr Mashaba's attorneys did not substantiate their contention that the summons was defective. And they said Mr Mashaba would not appear tomorrow.”

Soni said he replied to the letter from Mashaba's lawyers and informed them that the commission found it convenient that their client's reasons for expressing his intention to defy summons were identical to those of Zuma.

There was no response to the letter.

“We hope that good sense will prevail and that Mr Mashaba will be here to be questioned on his affidavit,” said Soni.

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