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'Disrespectful and unacceptable': Zondo lambastes Mpofu's Tuesday rant

Zondo said Mpofu's attitude towards the public enterprises minister and his legal counsel — who Mpofu had told to 'shut up' — was unacceptable

25 March 2021 - 16:19 By kgaugelo masweneng

State capture commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has lambasted Dali Mpofu’s behaviour on Tuesday after the lawyer told minister Pravin Gordhan and his legal representative to “shut up”.

Zondo said Mpofu's attitude towards the public enterprises minister and his legal counsel, advocate Michelle le Roux, was “unacceptable”.

“Not only was disrespect shown to some of the people in the hearing, but also to the commission and to me as the chairperson,” he said.

Mpofu was representing former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane during his cross-examination of Gordhan.

The minister implicated Moyane in allegations of state capture when he gave evidence to the inquiry in November 2018.

Le Roux asked Gordhan to tell Zondo how it felt to be called “racist” by Moyane and his legal team. Mpofu then objected after Gordhan asked to make a brief comment, before Le Roux interrupted him.

Mpofu pointed out to Zondo he still “had the floor” and said Le Roux must “shut up”.

“Chair, I’m on the floor. Really, I can’t stand this kind of behaviour. This cannot be happening for the third time. Miss Le Roux must shut up when I am speaking. You too, Mr Gordhan,” Mpofu said.

Zondo said the incident, though not unique, was worth highlighting.

“Mpofu was told by me to sit down at a certain stage towards the end. He was not the first legal practitioner that I told to sit down. No legal practitioner, including Mpofu, has the right to tell anyone in the commission to shut up. This conduct is unacceptable.

“I may consider what to do in the future if a witness or their lawyer is not prepared to subject themselves to the authority of the chairperson,” Zondo said.

The state capture inquiry on Thursday continued to hear Sars-related evidence from employee Vlok Symington.

On Wednesday, the commission heard testimony from a former partner at Bain & Company SA, Athol Williams. Bain & Co was called in to help restructure Sars when it fell under the leadership of Moyane.