Zondo welcomes High Court decision to grant request that inquiry be extended
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has welcomed a decision by the North Gauteng High Court to grant his request for an order to extend the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture that he is heading for a further two years.
"It brings relief to the commission, the secretary and his staff, the commission's legal team and investigators since we are given more time to do this very important work of the commission," said Zondo on Tuesday.
"If the extension is confirmed on 2 October we will be able to really focus on our work without having to be concerned that in a few months' time the commission may have to stop its work because the 180 days will be up which has been the case so far, particularly for many of the people appointed to assist the commission or to work for the commission."
Zondo had launched an urgent application on July 19, asking for an order extending the 180 days within which the commission is required to complete its work.
The period of 180 days was included in the remedial action of the State of Capture report released by former Public Protector advocate Thuli Madonsela in October 2016.
On Monday, the High Court in Pretoria granted an order calling upon various persons including the president and Public Protector to show cause as to why the period of 180 days should not be extended by 24 months, calculated from March 1.
The court also made an order to the effect that, pending the return day, the period of 180 days mentioned in its order of December 13, 2017 "is extended for a further 24 months calculated from 1 March 2018".
The order of December 13, 2017, was made by the court when it dismissed the review application that had been brought by former president Jacob Zuma.
Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ordered Zuma to fulfil the remedial actions of the Public Protector as described in the State of Capture report.
He also ruled that Zuma must institute a commission of inquiry into state capture within 30 days, which would be headed by a judge appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, as per the "binding" remedial actions put forward by Madonsela.
In a statement, Justice Zondo said one of the challenges with the period of 180 days was that it was never indicated in the Public Protector's remedial action from what date the period should be calculated.
"Since it was never indicated in the first place from which date the 180 days had to be calculated, there was no certainty either as to when it would expire," said Zondo in a statement.
"One possible date from when the 180 days could be calculated was 25 January 2018 when the appointment of the commission and its terms of reference were published in the Government Gazette."
Zondo explained that if January 25 was the accepted date, the period for the commission would expire on Tuesday.
Other possible dates include February 9, 2018, when the regulations of the commission were promulgated in the Government Gazette, or March 1, 2018, when the secretary of the commission and the head of investigations commenced duties.
Zondo added that the president, Public Protector and other interested parties would have until October 2 to oppose the confirmation of the extension of the 180 days as the urgent application was brought without notice to them due to the urgency occasioned by the looming expiry of the 180 days.