Probe Zuma's phone records on 'state capture', former anti-graft chief urges
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Probe Zuma's phone records on 'state capture', former anti-graft chief urges

Posted PETER DUBE

on  Wednesday, January 10   2018 at  17:33

South Africa’s former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela wants the newly appointed commission of inquiry on the state capture to begin with forensic probe into President Jacob Zuma’s phone records.

Ms Madonsela who headed the country’s anti-corruption watchdog led the investigation into alleged undue influence of the president’s wealthy business friends on government appointments and contracts, and released a report known as the State of Capture. The 2016 report recommended the setting up of a probe team.

The advocate has however lamented that the commission, set up by President Zuma after a court ordered him to do so, is a little late and that the mobile phone records may be unavailable.

“Cellphone records are kept for a limited period and I’m not sure if we’re still going to get them,” she said.

While welcoming the decision to set up the inquiry, she said it was “two years too late, if you look at when the first whistle-blowing happened, and more than a year after I had asked him [Zuma] to establish a commission. But better late than never," Ms Madonsela said.

On Tuesday night, President Zuma announced that he had decided to appoint a commission of inquiry into the state capture to be headed by the deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The appointment comes after a court ruling in December that ordered the beleaguered president to abide by the anti-corruption watchdog recommendations and let the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng pick the judge to head it since Mr Zuma was implicated in the investigation.

Ms Madonsela has warned that the inquiry would be a waste of time if it ventured outside the parameters of what was prescribed by her report.

She said the recommendations were made because her office did not have sufficient time or resources to comprehensively investigate the issues. She released the report a day before her seven-year term as Public Protector came to an end.

Ms Madonsela also urged the inquiry to verify several emails, dubbed the #GuptaLeaks, which revealed the alleged extent of state capture by the wealthy Gupta family and their associates.

The Guptas, who run several businesses in South Africa, allegedly benefited from their relationship with President Zuma. The Guptas and Mr Zuma both deny the allegations.

"The commission of inquiry will now have to authenticate those emails, it will have to go to the original systems to check the veracity or authenticity of the emails," she said.