Zondo commission must result in action against wrongdoers

Chief justice Raymond Zondo.
Chief justice Raymond Zondo.

For almost two years South Africans have heard how billions of rands have been siphoned out of the country while politically connected individuals allegedly unduly benefited from taxpayers' money.

Some politicians — chief among them former president Jacob Zuma, the alleged chief architect of the state capture project that has seen the public purse being plundered and SA effectively sold to the highest bidder — have pleaded their innocence at the Zondo commission.

When the commission was announced almost two years ago, there was a general feeling that South Africa was finally walking the talk as there was hope that those implicated would at long last  be held to account. R700m later and counting, no one has been prosecuted to date.

It could be argued that our law enforcement agencies will not wake from their slumber and prosecute wrongdoers until Deputy Chief Justice Raymond  Zondo submits the report with recommendations to the president.

Some of the testimony was so jaw-dropping it kept South Africans riveted to the proceedings, but lately, the commission has sort of deteriorated, with witnesses failing to show up, which disrupts its work.

This indicates that some of the witnesses are not taking the Zondo commission seriously. For former Prasa chair Tintswalo Makhubela, a sitting judge in Gauteng, to apply for a postponement of a postponement, with her lawyer, advocate Mxolisi Nxasana, saying he had not had time to consult with his client since July 24 when a burst tyre left her “emotionally unwell”, leading to the initial postponement, is beyond shocking.

Makhubela would probably not allow such a lame excuse in her courtroom, so why she thought it would fly with Zondo is mind-boggling. The fact that she boastfully said she was not an ordinary person comes across as her suggesting she should be treated differently to other witnesses.

SA cannot afford the same vicious cycle of people continuing to plunder and loot unabated

But Zondo's instruction to Makhubela to testify on Wednesday is an indication that everyone is equal before the law.

The commission cannot be reduced to entertainment for citizens, with sometimes wild accusations and grandstanding by some witnesses who produce no evidence to back their claims.

If the commission is to restore the public's faith in the justice system, there has to be consequences for those implicated in wrongdoing, or else it will end up being a very expensive public relations exercise.

South Africa cannot afford the same vicious cycle of people continuing to plunder and loot unabated.

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