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Johannesburg – The commission of inquiry into claims of state capture by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was given another extension to complete its work by June this year. According to an order given at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday, following a formal request made in January by Justice Zondo. In his application, Justice Zondo argued that the work of his commission was seriously hindered when President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country under a level 5 national lockdown.

He said the Commission was not authorized to hold public hearings from March 2020 to May 2020 because of the Level 5 national lockout and, as a result of logistical adjustments that had to be made before the public hearings could resume, the Commission was unable to hold public hearings in June 2020. Justice Zondo said, “The investigators were generally unable to travel across provincial borders to seek out and consult with potential witnesses.”

After none of the parties, including Ramaphosa, EFF and Public Protector and others, opposed it, the extension was granted until 30 June. It is now expected that Ramaphosa will amend the declaration and set a date for the presentation of his final report by Justice Zondo. This was the third extension given since the commission, following a proclamation issued by then-president Jacob Zuma, was created in 2018.

Zondo cited numerous reasons for his application in his second application, which was, coincidentally, also released during the same time last year.In his application for a 10-month extension to complete his work until March 2021, Judge Zondo had argued that Zuma’s proclamation had broadened the mandate of the investigation’s commission. Judge Zondo claimed that if the letter was accompanied by Zuma’s proclamation, it meant that the commission would only be able to conclude its work after four to six years.

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Judge Zondo said that he will ask Ramaphosa to refer the law enforcement agencies to investigate other “general corruption matters.” He often referred to separate matters to be heard. A final extension was given by the then Judge Wendy Hughes until March 2021, but the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic affected the function of Zondo, triggering the new decision in his favour.

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