Thursday, 23 January 2020

Pretoria: The State Capture Commission of Inquiry has applied to the Pretoria High Court for an extension until December 2020.

Briefing media on Thursday, chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, said he is confident that the court will grant the commission its second extension.

The commission, which began its work in August 2018, was granted its first extension last year to wrap up its work by February 2020.

“Originally, the commission was meant to finish after six months, but then we asked the High Court to extend it. It was extended until the end of February 2020.

“The date for the end of February was subject to the developments that unfolded. It has now become clear that it was not adequate,” said the Deputy Chief Justice.

Zondo said the application of the first extension was based on the assessment of the work done, but was also subject to developments once investigations had started.

The detailed terms of reference, which determine the commission’s scope of work, were also highlighted by Zondo as a reason for the duration of the inquiry.

“When the terms of reference were framed, they went far beyond the ones that were identified by the Public Protector.

“As long as something falls in line with the terms of reference, we are obliged to investigate,” said the Deputy Chief Justice.

To date, the commission has sat for more than 190 days, heard evidence from over 150 witnesses. The transcript of the evidence that has been led and recorded consists of more than 27 000 pages, with exhibits of more than 450 000 pages.

“What I have realised through my involvement in this commission is that corruption is very deep in our society. I believe that even with what the commission has seen, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot that this commission would have to hear if it wants to sit and exhaust the terms of reference as they are.

“I took the view, with regard to the extension application, that there was an outcry for a commission because of State capture, and it is in the public interests that we bring finality on that issue as soon as we can,” said the Deputy Chief Justice.

Zondo said he hopes to wrap up the work of the commission before the end of the year.

“Before the end of the year, we would have come to the stage of writing the report, but if we don’t finish that by 31 December, then we might need a few more months to do that.

“If we are not granted an extension, then I don’t think we will be able to make any findings because we cannot make findings on an incomplete investigation. It would be a disaster if we were not granted an extension.” said Zondo.

The High Court is scheduled to consider the application on 11 February 2020.