Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate boss Robert McBride’s testimony before the state capture inquiry has been postponed again.
This is because the commission’s legal team has failed to provided notices to between 30 and 50 people McBride implicates in his statement – the same reason his testimony was postponed when he first appeared before the commission in February.
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission, on Monday said this was unacceptable.
This after hearing representations from the commission’s legal team leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, who said the team was severely constrained.
“The failure of the legal team to ensure that 3.3 notices, that is notices to implicated persons to enable them to cross-examine, have not been issued. There was a decision or a proposal at least that in order to reduce formalities, the need for formal applications such as the present should be obviated,” Pretorius said.
“This particular application is necessary despite that intention to reassure the public and to reassure interested parties that despite the logistical and capacity challenges the commission is facing, it does regard compliance with its rules as a serious matter.”
In the normal process, after a witness submits their evidence to the commission, a letter is issued to implicated people, notifying them of the time and date the person will be testifying and, second, allowing them 14 days to consult their legal representatives and make an application (if they choose to) to cross-examine the witness.
“That scheme was predicated on the assumption that a witness would be called, due notice having been given and a two week preceding the evidence having being provided for, and in that period all applications for cross-examination would be heard. The implicated person would be given a opportunity to respond thereto so that a witness could come and give evidence and immediately be cross-examined,” Pretorius said.
“That has proved unworkable for a number of reasons.”
He said if the commission’s legal team does not know how long a witness is to give evidence for and by how many people they will be cross-examined, they cannot plan uninterrupted evidence in the medium and long term.
The other problem the commission faces is co-ordinating the availability of various legal teams for cross-examination.
To solve the problem, the witness was allowed to testify and their evidence was postponed for future cross-examination rather than it being conducted immediately.
Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen was set to testify after McBride this week.
Between the two of them, the commission has had to prepare about 100 notices for implicated parties.
“There simply can be no excuse for this having not been done,” Zondo said.
McBride’s testimony has been postponed to Thursday and Booysen will testify on Monday next week, provided McBride is finished by then.