Former IPID boss, Robert McBride’s testimony at the state capture inquiry, names Commission Chair Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo’s younger brother, advocate Mxolisi Zondo. On Thursday morning, the head of the commission’s legal team, Paul Pretorius SC, began proceedings by raising a possible conflict of interest regarding McBride’s testimony on Mxolisi Zondo.
Pretorius indicated that McBride’s mention of Mxolisi relates to an opinion he has provided relating to a disciplinary hearing that he chaired. Mxolisi had chaired a disciplinary hearing relating to the illegal detention of Zimbabwean nationals by the police in 2010. Shadrack Sibiya was fired as a result of the disciplinary inquiry’s recommendations along with IPID investigator, Matthew Sesoko, who was later reinstated. Sesoko was criminally charged for fraud and defeating the ends of justice. The criminal charges were withdrawn in November 2016.
Pretorius stated that none of those notified of the potential conflict raised an objection to the Deputy Chief Justice hearing McBride’s evidence relating to the disciplinary inquiry chaired by his younger brother. McBride did not object to Zondo presiding over the matter and said he trusted that he would be objective.
Mxolisi supplied the commission with an affidavit and explained his history related to the disciplinary hearing and said he did not wish to cross-examine McBride. On whether Zondo should recuse himself from hearing McBride’s evidence, Pretorius explained that the commission’s chair does not have the power to substitute himself.
Pretorius said the commission’s legal team recommends that Zondo hears McBride’s evidence, but should not immediately rule on the matter of conflict of interest until a later stage. Zondo noted that President Cyril Ramaphosa has the power to amend the commission’s terms of reference in such a way that he deals with the issue at hand.
“It may well be that consideration should be given whether there is any role that should be played by the president with regard to this issue,” Zondo said.
Zondo noted the commission’s “very limited time to complete its work”. The commission’s deadline is March 2019. McBride’s evidence has been delayed owing to two applications for postponement by the commission’s legal team.
The inquiry continues hearing evidence of McBride which will focus on the alleged capturing of the law enforcement agency.