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The chairperson of the judicial commission of inquiry into
state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has denied the Gupta
brothers leave to cross-examine witnesses.Ajay and Rajesh Gupta had applied to cross examine former
deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas, former GCIS head Themba Maseko and former ANC MP
Vytjie Mentor. He said the Guptas had no valid reason not to appear before
the commission, and denied their request for the commission to travel abroad to
hear their testimony. He also denied their request to testify via videolink. “If the commission does not hear the side of the Gupta
brothers it will not be because of the commission but that they decided to turn
their backs on South Africa,” Zondo said. He added that the commission does not see any reason to give
the Gupta brothers any special treatment and will not do so. Zondo said he would consider the Gupta brothers’ request if
they were willing to return to the country. “As long as they are [not] prepared to personally and
physically appear before the commission within the borders of South Africa, and
where this commission can exercise its powers over them, their application
cannot be granted.”But once they are within the borders of South Africa
and are prepared to appear physically and personally before the commission, I
would have absolutely no difficulty in granting them leave to cross-examine.
For it is quite clear, that at least Mr Ajay Gupta, is seriously implicated and
it would be fair that he be granted an opportunity to cross-examine any witness
who implicated him.”Zuma granted requestZondo, however, granted former President Jacob Zuma’s son
Duduzane Zuma leave to cross examine Jonas. Zondo handed down his ruling on Thursday in Parktown,
Johannesburg.Previously, Zondo expressed concern over the Gupta brothers’
applications to cross-examine witnesses, while not being present in South
Africa themselves. He raised this issue again on Thursday while handing down
his ruling. This, after advocate Mike Hellens, SC, for Ajay Gupta, said
his client was willing to testify and wanted to cross-examine witnesses from a
location outside of the country.Hellens said the commission doesn’t have to send a
“caravan” to Dubai, one representative could go.Worried about being arrestedHe claimed the Gupta brothers were worried about possibly
being arrested if they returned to South Africa, labeling the Hawks and the
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as “recklessly incompetent and a
national embarrassment”.Hellens also told the commission that Ajay Gupta has a
“powerfully contrary version” to Mentor’s version of events, that
might not be put before the commission.Mentor told the commission that Ajay Gupta had offered her
the job of public enterprises minister if she in turn would drop the SAA
Johannesburg to Mumbai route so that a Gupta-linked company, Jet Airways, could
benefit.She said Ajay told her that there was a planned reshuffle by
Zuma and he was going to fire Barbara Hogan, who was the incumbent.Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas also claimed
the Guptas offered him R600m if he accepted the finance minister post.Jacob Zuma has not applied to question any of the witnesses
at the hearing.SOURCE: NEWS24


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