Judge Zondo orders that Makhubele return to give oral testimony on 3 August

Former PRASA interim board chair and Judge Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele could not attend court proceedings due to “emotional trauma” after a tyre puncture while driving from Makopane to Pretoria on Thursday night.

This is what Judge Makhubele’s advocate, Gift Shakoane, told Judge Raymond Zondo on Friday. But a visibly annoyed Zondo grilled Shakoane on the merits of Makhubele’s absence.

This is not the first time that Judge Makhubele has failed to answer allegations against her. On 6 February 2018, while still serving as chairperson of PRASA’s interim board of control, Makhubele and the rest of the board refused to come before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport. The committee then decided to subpoena the PRASA board to attend a meeting on 13 February, but this subpoena was ultimately not issued.

Makhubele came under the spotlight due to her fractious tenure, during which she was accused of attempting to push through payments to contractors accused of corruption and an alleged breach of the separation of powers, among other issues.

Makhubele was first notified that the Zondo Commission had taken an interest in her time as chair of the interim board of control at PRASA on 20 and 21 February. She was given affidavits submitted by #UniteBehind’s Zackie Achmat, and then Martha Ngoye and Fani Dingiswayo of PRASA’s legal department. On 26 May, Makhubele was also served with the affidavits of advocates Francois Botes and Diale Mogashoa.

On 6 July Makhubele was given formal notice to appear before the Commission on Friday, 24 July. We understand that this date was approved with Judge President Dustin Mlambo of the North Gauteng High Court.

Makhubele had six months to prepare formal responses to allegations concerning her tenure as chair but to date has not done so, with the exception of a short reply on 1 July regarding Botes.

On Friday, Makhubele’s counsel pleaded for a postponement. Judge Zondo, however, found that the documents provided for the postponement application had “no merit whatsoever”.

Zondo said that Makhubele had “ample time to prepare” for the commission. “She has not done anything. Everyone is given two weeks [to prepare]. She has done absolutely nothing, she had ample opportunity. No explanation is given why … That can’t be acceptable from a Judge.”

Zondo said that the commission was under severe time constraints and that it “cannot afford to have postponements which can be avoided”.