Jacob Zuma

Former President, Jacob Zuma.

Photo: State Capture Inquiry

Dodgeball: Zuma won’t appear before commission next week – lawyer

Jacob Zuma’s lawyers have once again found a way for the former president to avoid appearing at the Commission. Or have they?

Jacob Zuma

Former President, Jacob Zuma.

Photo: State Capture Inquiry

Nobody can avoid or evade the Zondo Commission into State Capture quite like our former President Jacob Zuma. His lawyer Eric Mabuza furnished the secretary of the commission with a letter on Friday morning stating that it would not be right for Zuma to appear next week given the fact that his review application is yet to be determined. 

Zuma essentially applied for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to recuse himself from his hearing as it would be a conflict of interest. He claimed that he and Zondo had some sort of personal relationship, going as far as labelling him as a friend. Zondo denied his claims, especially that he would act with bias, and later refused his recusal bid. 

Thereafter a review application was launched to try and overturn Zondo’s decision. It is Mabuza and Zuma’s view that he cannot appear before the commission until the outcome of the review application is determined. 


On 11 January, Zondo said Zuma must appear before the commission from 18 – 22 January or else…

Mabuza, in response to that letter said; “we respectfully disagree with the Commission’s view that President Zuma is obliged to appear on 18-22 January 2021”. 

“The Commission is aware that President Zuma has instituted an application to review and set aside the refusal by Deputy Chief Justice Zondo to recuse himself from hearing matters concerning him and his family. The review application is yet to be determined by the court. In our respectful view, President Zuma can only be legally obliged to appear after his review application has been determined,” added Mabuza. 

“We remind the Commission that it deemed appropriate to approach the Constitutional Court on an extremely urgent basis to compel President Zuma to comply with the very same summons that the Commission now wants to enforce and to forego some of his most fundamental rights. The Commission must therefore await the outcome of the decision of the Constitutional Court,” the letter went on to say. 

Mabuza said the application to the Constitutional Court did not only deal with the appearance of Zuma but also included a request for an order that he should not be allowed to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent.

“It is, therefore, obvious that before any suggestion can be made about the appearance of President Zuma, the Commission must await the decision of the Constitutional Court which has a bearing on President Zuma’s appearance,” it added. 

“We respectfully submit that President Zuma will not be appearing before the Commission on 18-22 January 2021. Accordingly, Counsel will not be briefed to appear,” added Mabuza. 


The question remains…can he be arrested for this no-show? High Court Advocate James Grant said non-cooperation could be classed as a criminal offence. 

“Any person summoned to attend and give evidence before a Commission who fails to attend at the time and the place specified in the summons… shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or even imprisonment that does not exceed six months. Both punishments can be imposed.”

Section 6 of The Commissions Act on who can be arrested