Johannesburg – Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni stunned Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the state capture inquiry on Thursday by revealing the identity of a secret witness.
Myeni shocked Zondo, who chairs the inquiry when she referred to Mr X by his name four times during her evidence, in violation of the commission’s order not to identify him as he fears for his safety.
“I’m going to ask you as well as stoically. This is a distraction of a family member. Mr X (identifying him) is my family, his children are my children. He’s my brother,” Myeni said, adding that there was no truth in hiding his identity as he is part of her family and she considers him her brother.
She added: “I’m not going to talk about issues that pertain to what the so-called Mr X (identifying him) because of the fear that has been presented before you.
“This is an honest man that I have known for over 25 years,” she explained to an astounded Justice Zondo, who then adjourned proceedings for lunch break.
Evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr said Myeni’s naming of Mr X on four occasions was a wilful obstruction of the commission in the performance of its functions.
She said it revealed disrespect of the commission and its processes and will send a chill over these proceedings and could be liable to deter future whistle-blowers and witnesses from coming forward.
“This is an extremely serious matter,” she said.
Hofmeyr asked Justice Zondo to direct commission secretary Professor Itumeleng Mosala to lay a charge against Myeni for breaching Section 5 of the Commission’s Act.
The act states that any person who wilfully interrupts the proceedings of a commission or who wilfully hinders or obstructs a commission in the performance of its functions shall be guilty of an offence and liable for a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both.
Hofmeyr also said Myeni was in breach of the commission’s regulations.
The regulations provide for any person who insults, disparages or belittles the chairperson or any member of the commission or prejudices the inquiry, its proceedings or findings, is guilty of an offence and liable for a conviction to a fine, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.
Any person who wilfully hinders, resists or obstructs the chairperson or any officer in the exercise of any power or contravenes the regulations’ provisions will be fined or imprisoned for a period not exceeding 12 months.
Hofmeyr maintained that Myeni’s regret should be appropriately reserved for her criminal charge on the matter should the National Prosecuting Authority decide to prosecute.
“The proper function of the commission requires matters like this to be dealt with resolutely and swiftly so that there can be no doubt that people who knowingly undermine this commission will be brought to book,” she said.
Justice Zondo described Myeni’s identification of Mr X as quite a serious development.
“What you did is really something that seems to me would discourage other witnesses who want to give evidence before the commission anonymously when they fear for their safety or their lives something that is very crucial to the work of the commission,” he said.
According to Justice Zondo, if something like this happens right in the commission, it undermines its work in a very serious way.
“To say the least, I am disappointed that you did this, particularly after I had said that I made an order that his identity should not be revealed. I did not expect this from you.
“From yesterday, my impression was that you were showing respect to the commission,” he explained.
Justice Zondo said if somebody disrespects the order that he has made, it seemed to him that that person disrespects him as well.
“I’m going to wait for the submissions that your legal team will bring by Monday 10am and I will then have regard to it and take it from there,” he said.
Judge Zondo appealed to the media and others to continue to respect the order that was issued as they have done before and not mention Mr X’s real name as his order still stands.
Myeni said she felt very bad and didn’t mean to disrespect the commission.
“It was disbelief, an emotion that came with it, feeling betrayed. I think my mind is not into it, I apologise,” she said.
The commission resumes on Friday.