Terence Nombembe. Picture: SUPPLIED
Terence Nombembe. Picture: SUPPLIED

Former auditor-general Terence Nombembe will not be removed as head of investigations for the judicial commission of inquiry on state capture, despite an objection from the EFF.

The head of the inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has dismissed the formal objection lodged by the party.

But the EFF said on Thursday it had no choice but to turn to the courts to remove Nombembe from the commission.

The EFF questioned his appointment based on the fact that he was the CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), which had received a R1.2m donation from Gupta-linked Trillian.

Saica paid back the donation, which had been made in March 2017 as a contribution to its bursary fund for disadvantaged students, to Trillian.

Saica seconded Nombembe to the commission for an initial six months.

The institute is itself conducting an inquiry into its members who worked for international auditing firm KPMG, which did work for the Gupta family.

The Guptas are at the heart of the state capture allegations.

Zondo on Thursday declined to remove Nombembe, saying Saica had responded to the EFF’s objection, explaining what had happened and how the money donated to the Thuthuka Bursary Fund had been sent back to Trillian after allegations of corruption in the media.

Zondo said that based on the explanation he could see no basis on which Nombembe could be criticised in regard to the donation.

"On the contrary, he should be commended for having been part of the decision of the [Thuthuka Bursary Fund] board of directors that the donation be rejected and returned to Trillian Capital," he said.

The deputy chief justice said the EFF seemed not to have been aware that the donation was rejected and returned at the time of lodging its complaint.

The EFF, however, maintained that all those who were conflicted, actual or perceived, should recuse themselves.

"The continued presence of Nombembe, who the EFF intend to call as a witness in future, will leave us with no option but to approach the courts for the removal of Nombembe from the inquiry and be left with no choice but to suspect the inquiry is just a whitewash meant to bury the ANC’s complicity in the whole state of capture inquiry," said the party’s national spokesman, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.