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Zondo rejects Ajay Gupta's request to cross-examine Trevor Manuel

Gupta's lawyer Mike Hellens made the reuqest on Tuesday, saying that the commission is yet to allow implicated individuals to cross-examine witnesses to test the veracity of the evidence being heard.

FILE: Deputy Chief Justice Zondo during the first public hearing on state capture allegations in Johannesburg on 20 August 2018. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - State capture inquiry chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has rejected a request by Ajay Gupta to cross-examine Trevor Manuel.

Gupta's lawyer Mike Hellens made the request on Tuesday, saying that the commission is yet to allow implicated individuals to cross-examine witnesses to test the veracity of the evidence being heard.

Gupta wants to challenge claims made by Manuel that former Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula told the African National Congress’ national executive committee that his brother, Atul, may have interfered in his appointment to the post.

“What has developed since then is that, not with a bang but a whimper, they all came to an end with all those charges withdrawn, people’s liberty interfered with for nothing, opposition to them travelling overseas all for nothing, the charges are gone,” says Hellens.

Zondo, though, says nothing has changed since his ruling last year to reject the application.

“There’s no basis for me to grant Mr Ajay Gupta to cross-examine because the hurdle which stood in his way in terms of that judgment remains.”

The chairperson last year dismissed a similar application by the Gupta brothers to cross-examine witnesses at the state capture inquiry.

At the time, the deputy Chief Justice said that if Ajay and Rajesh Gupta were not prepared to testify in South Africa, they won’t be given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.