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Zondo's state capture inquiry to get more millions to complete its work

05 May 2021 - 12:31 By aphiwe deklerk
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. File photo
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. File photo
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The state capture commission of inquiry is set to receive an additional R75m from the government to continue its work.

This was revealed by justice minister Ronald Lamola, during his appearance at the justice and correctional services portfolio committee in parliament on Wednesday.

Lamola's commitment comes after finance minister Tito Mboweni told parliament during his budget speech in February that he would not give the commission further funding.

The need for more money by the commission arises after its deadline was extended by the North Gauteng High Court to the end of June after an urgent court application by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission.

In his application, Zondo had cited the effects of lockdown restrictions and a need to call more witnesses as some of the reasons why he needed an extension.

The commission has already spent more than R800m since its inception.

Lamola told the committee that despite Mboweni's earlier refusal to allocate more money, talks have taken place with his department and more money would be made available.

“We want a situation where there is finality of the work of the commission of inquiry, we have already [allocated] a lot of money so we cannot abruptly end the commission's work. The commission has to end by giving us a report, that's the first thing we must consider,” said Lamola.

He said his department, the secretariat of the commission and the National Treasury had a conversation and had found the R75m to help the commission finish its work.

Lamola, however, warned that the commission should finish its work by the end of June, in accordance with the court order.

“It is also in the hands of the chairperson of the commission of inquiry to ensure that it is so, and if there are difficulties, maybe he might raise at a certain point in time, what could have been the difficulties for them to finish.

“We would want to see the commission finish its work because it also affects our programmes, because some of the money that we might have to find to help the commission, we have to cut from some of our programmes.

“We are beginning to feel the squeeze of resources, so it's important that it must finish its work,” said Lamola.

National Prosecuting Authority head Shamila Batohi, who was also at the meeting, said it was taking time prosecuting cases from information emanating from the state capture inquiry because they needed to do more investigations.

She said there was a challenge with timing and sequencing because the commission was still doing its work, which made it challenging for the NPA and the commission to work closely on some of the cases that could eventually be prosecuted.

“The investigators have to verify the information that we receive as we know there is no cross-examination — well, limited cross-examination — before the commission. And so, as investigators, we have to anticipate those things. There is a lot more work that needs to go into the investigation after we receive evidence from the commission,” said Batohi.