Judge Raymond Zondo presides at the commission of inquiry into state capture. Picture: Sowetan/Alon Skuy
Judge Raymond Zondo presides at the commission of inquiry into state capture. Picture: Sowetan/Alon Skuy

The chair of the commission of inquiry into state capture, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, has disclosed the reasons former president Jacob Zuma believes the judge is biased against him because of past family relations.

The secretary of the commission, Prof Itumeleng Mosala, issued a statement on Thursday outlining Zondo’s view of what Zuma could be referring to. Zondo decided to make a public statement about this because of Zuma’s failure to approach the court for the his recusal as chair of the commission and also because of media inquiries.

Zuma’s attorney Eric Mabuza, who has employed several tactics to delay his client’s appearance before the commission, wrote to Zondo in September requesting his recusal, and indicated he would approach the court. The “historical family” relations between Zuma and Zondo were cited as one source of the alleged bias. Zondo has issued a subpoena for Zuma to appear before the commission. 

In the statement, Zondo says: “In the mid 1990s — that is about 25 years ago — when I was in my 30s and was still in private practice as a lawyer, I got into a relationship with a certain woman out of which a child was born. That relationship ended during the 1990s. Unbeknown to anybody at the time, that woman’s sister, Ms Thobeka Madiba, was, many years after that relationship had ended, to get married to Mr Jacob Zuma.

“To my knowledge Mr Zuma had no relationship with Ms Thobeka Madiba in the mid 1990s. That Mr Zuma happened to marry the sister of a woman with whom I had had a relationship that had ended so many years before that marriage has never had any bearing on the execution of my judicial functions in the many matters involving Mr Zuma in which I have sat as a justice of the Constitutional Court since 2012, nor does it have any bearing on the execution of my duties as chair of the commission.

“Indeed, in none of the many matters involving Mr Zuma in which I have sat in the past has Mr Zuma ever expressed any complaint or concern; nor has he ever brought an application for my recusal,” Zondo wrote.

“I thought it is necessary to bring the above clarification but I do not, at this stage, intend to address any of the other allegations made in Mr Zuma’s attorney’s letter as I will deal with them if and when Mr Zuma’s application for my recusal is lodged.”

Zondo said he had intended to reply to Zuma’s allegations during the envisaged court process, but as this had not materialised, he had decided to go ahead since more than a month had elapsed since the letter had been received, and the commission had not received the court application.

“[Zondo] has decided to address this matter and clarify it once and for all and indicate what he thinks Mr Zuma may be referring to,” Mosala also said in the statement.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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