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Zondo tells Arthur Fraser and SSA to sort out their differences on classified documents impasse

14 April 2021 - 11:05 By mawande amashabalala
A lawyer for Arthur Fraser (left) says they have received an undertaking by the SSA to declassify the documents required. File image.
A lawyer for Arthur Fraser (left) says they have received an undertaking by the SSA to declassify the documents required. File image.
Image: Desiree Swart/Business Day

State capture inquiry chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, has instructed former director-general of the State Security Agency (SSA) Arthur Fraser and his former employer to sort out their differences on his request for the declassification of documents.

Fraser last August wrote to the SSA requesting a declassification of documents he believes are crucial to enable him to testify at the commission.

According to him, the SSA refused to play ball, forcing him to approach the commission to intervene and compel the agency to release the documents.

However, Fraser's lawyer Rapulane Kgoroeadira argued on Wednesday morning, only now did the SSA appear willing to hand over the documents his client needs albeit only if he details why and how they will assist him, which they have done in an affidavit.

To that end, Kgoroeadira held that there was no need for the merits of their application to be heard now, given the undertaking by the SSA to declassify the documents.

Zondo agreed. “Rather than deal with the merits now, let us see what comes out of that process. It may well be that the parties will reach an agreement that what Mr Fraser would have been given is sufficient,” he said.

“I must not be understood to be saying that the applicant’s application does not have challenges and hurdles. But where parties have reached an agreement in trying to sort the matter out, let us give them the opportunity.”

SSA's legal representative advocate Bheki Ndebele accused Fraser of deliberately stalling the process.

According to Ndebele, SSA had extended an invitation to Fraser six months ago for a meeting to seek an amicable solution on how they could assist him.

However, he charged, Fraser had snubbed that invitation.

“We feel that the application [by Fraser] is the abuse of the commission’s processes,” said Ndebele.

“The matter should just be dismissed and the parties should be allowed to deal with the matter, as they were supposed to do so six months ago.”

The commission's head of the legal team, Paul Pretorius SC, expressed concern that the tussle between Fraser and SSA was unfolding outside the ambit of the inquiry.

What was indisputable, argued Pretorius, was that Fraser had evidence that was essential to the work of the commission.

Thus, he added, Fraser should co-operate.

“Mr Fraser appears to have evidence that may be significant to the work of the commission. We invite Mr Fraser to work with the investigation of the commission,” said Pretorius.

Zondo postponed the application.