As Jacob Zuma hot-footed it from the State Capture Inquiry on Thursday, he may have felt like he was leaving his problems behind. In reality, he’s only embarked upon another legal journey into uncharted, murky waters.
Jacob Zuma ditches the State Capture Inquiry
Zuma defied the orders of the Zondo Commission and absconded from the hot-seat, despite being scheduled to appear for the remainder of Thursday and also on Friday 20 November. The former president has weaved away from the Inquiry’s questions all week, after launching a failed bid to force DCJ Raymond Zondo into recusing himself from the case.
Following a long adjournment, Zondo revealed that Zuma had stormed out of the Commission ‘without permission’, opening up an enormous legal grey area. Indeed, it seems that the 78-year-old is playing a very risky game at the moment.
Can Jacob Zuma be arrested for leaving the Zondo Commission?
Mandy Wiener, one of South Africa’s leading legal journalists and crime authors, has stated that uBaba is in breach of the summons issued by the State Capture Inquiry last month – putting him in contempt of court. He was told to attend from 16 – 20 November, and by failing to stick around today, he has not met the terms of this judicial framework:
“Technically, the summons stands so Zuma should testify (even if he does a Dudu Myeni and not answer anything). But his lawyers want to excuse themselves and walk out – which leaves Zuma in contempt of court.”
Mandy Wiener on the prospect of Jacob Zuma being arrested
Ignoring his summons could cause a legal nightmare for JZ
James Grant is a High Court Advocate, and legal advice guru. He stated earlier in November that non-cooperation on a grand scale could be classed as a criminal offence – and he’s got judicial backing from Section 6 of The Commissions Act.
The long-standing law clearly states that a failure to attend on the specific dates and times – as set out by a summons from a legal commission – can leave an offender liable for a fine… or even a conviction:
“Any person summoned to attend and give evidence before a Commission who fails to attend at the time and the place specified in the summons… shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or even imprisonment that does not exceed six months. Both punishments can be imposed.”
Section 6 of The Commissions Act on who can be arrested
This legal interjection was raised two weeks ago, and applies to former SAA executive Dudi Myeni, too. She refused to answer several questions at the State Capture Inquiry, which is also a violation of The Commissions Act:
A witness before a comission who refuses to answer fully any question put to him/her may be convicted and sentenced to pay a fine or to imprisonment up to 6 months or both (s 6 Commissions Act) pic.twitter.com/1aSv5kpzOE
— James Grant (@JamesGrantZA) November 5, 2020