Zondo hits back at former spy boss Arthur Fraser
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has come out guns blazing after former boss Arthur Fraser’s objection to his candidacy for the position of chief justice.
In a letter, Fraser said Zondo was not a fit and proper candidate to head SA’s apex court. He complained about the way he was treated by the state capture commission, chaired by Zondo.
“I have reason to believe that his conduct was deliberate and sought to protect those I would have exposed to be the real culprits in capturing or attempting to recapture the state,” said Fraser. “I further have reason to believe that his deliberate conduct sought to protect the real origins of the idea of the commission as a foreign-sponsored concept.”
Zondo hit back on Thursday. In statement issued by the secretary of the commission Prof Itumeleng Mosala, Zondo said Fraser’s “statements are not true”.
Fraser said Zondo had denied him the opportunity to give evidence before the commission and to defend himself against witnesses who implicated him. He also said Zondo denied him the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses who implicated him in the commission.
“Despite public calls made by the chairperson of the commission from February 2018 to early in 2020 inviting past and present directors-general and ministers who had knowledge of alleged acts of state capture and corruption to come forward and give that information to the commission, Mr Fraser did not, over more than two years, come forward to share such information with the commission,” the statement reads.
The commission said there are provisions for “any person who is implicated by a witness in the commission and who wishes to testify and defend himself or herself against allegations or evidence of wrongdoing”. The person is required to apply to the commission for leave to give evidence and that application is decided by the chairperson, the commission said.
“Mr Fraser has never submitted an application to the commission for leave to give evidence,” the statement reads.
“It is not clear why, if Mr Fraser felt that he had been implicated by certain witnesses in wrongdoing, he did not follow the rules and apply for leave to testify. In this regard it is to be noted that Mr Fraser is legally represented by lawyers who are familiar with the rules of the commission. If Mr Fraser wanted to testify, he needed to comply with the rules that govern the position of people who want to testify to defend themselves against witnesses who have implicated them.”
According the statement, the commission reached out to Fraser.
“On 5 August 2020 an investigator of the commission called Mr Fraser’s then attorney (not the current one) after becoming aware of statements by Mr Fraser that he would disclose secrets about presidents and judges in regard to state capture and/or corruption,” the statement reads.
“The investigator spoke to Mr Fraser’s attorney and asked for an arrangement in terms of which Mr Fraser would be interviewed by the commission’s investigators to obtain information that was within his knowledge. According to that investigator, Mr Fraser’s attorney was uncooperative and told the investigator that Mr Fraser did not want to engage with the commission and they would use their ‘own channels and methods’. The investigator concerned reported this to his senior who in turn sent an email to the head of the legal team (Advocate PJ Pretorius SC) and the head of the investigation team (Mr T Nombembe). These two investigators have deposed to affidavits which confirm this.”
The commission said Fraser is yet to provide the information he claimed to have pertaining to “presidents and judges”.
“On 14 April 2021 Mr Fraser’s application to the commission for an order compelling the minister of state security and the state security agency to give him various documents that he said he needed for his submission before the commission was to be heard,” the statement reads.
“There is a transcript of the proceedings of the 14th April 2021 which reflects that the head of the commission’s legal team, Adv Pretorius SC, called upon Mr Fraser to co-operate with the commission’s investigators even at that late stage to conduct an investigation in respect of the information he was saying he had which he said would expose presidents and judges but to date Mr Fraser has not co-operated with the commission’s investigators.
“By agreement between the parties the chairperson postponed that application to enable Mr Fraser and the state security agency to have discussions and try to agree on documents that the SSA could release to Mr Fraser. The understanding was that, if Mr Fraser was not given the documents at all or was given some but not others and he still felt aggrieved after such discussions, he would revert to the commission so that his application could be heard and decided by the chairperson. Mr Fraser has never reported back to the commission on how that process unfolded.
“In conclusion, it is only Mr Fraser who can explain why he has never lodged an application for leave to give evidence before the commission if he wants to testify before the commission, particularly because he did see it fit to lodge two other applications including one for leave to cross-examine certain witnesses which is provided for in the same rule that provides for an application for leave to testify and the one for an order compelling the SSA to give him certain documents.”