Durban – Deputy Judge Raymond Zondo, chairman of the State Fisheries Investigation Commission, said on Thursday night that an investigation would be conducted in the leak of testimony before the witnesses had given evidence at the investigation.
"Since the public hearings launched by the Commission in August 2018, various parts of the media have spread and published the content of the witnesses' statements submitted to the Commission in connection with the Commission's investigation before the witnesses provide evidence to the Commission and without the written permission of the chairman," Zondo said.
"The latest event relates to the statement sent to the Commission by Minister Pravin Gordhan, Public Affairs Minister. The same was also true of the statement given to the Commission by former Minister of Public Enterprises, Barbara Hogan. Both Gordhan and Hogan Ministers should not yet give evidence to the Commission. "
On Thursday, Gordhan's 68-page statement leaked to the media and was reported.
While investigating the leak, Zondo said that media houses should pay attention to the Commission Regulations, under which no one may, without the written permission of the chairman, "disseminate all documents submitted to the Commission by any person in connection with the investigation or publish the content or any part of the contents of such document ".
It was also a crime to review any document – including statements – which were intended to be handed to the chairman "or intercept such documents" while it was headed for the chairman.
A person who violates the provisions was guilty of a crime and may receive a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months.
"In these regulations it is clear that it is a crime for all – and including the media – to disseminate or publish, without the written permission of the chairman, any document (containing witness statements) submitted to the Commission by any person in connection with the Commission investigation.
"After a witness has published evidence that the Commission and his or her statement have been handed over at the public hearing, the media may publish their statement unless the chairman otherwise orders," said Zondo.
"I therefore trust that all media houses, journalists, commentators, analysts and the public at large will not violate the regulations and to respect the Commission's processes in support of the Commission's work."
African News Agency / ANA