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Zuma claims new death threats over testimony



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Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma has sensationally claimed that death threats against his family followed his testimony at a commission of enquiry on Monday.

Mr Zuma told the Commission of Inquiry on State Capture on Tuesday that his personal assistant received the threats by phone on Monday evening from a caller she did not know.

“This person said you must tell Zuma that we are going to kill him, his children as well as some people around him. She informed me this morning,” Mr Zuma said.

The alleged threats come just a week after his senior counsel Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane also said he had received death threats.

“I am putting this on record because later, I’d like to come back to this. I have lost a child and I now know how it feels,” Mr Zuma said.

He seemed to suggest that the death of his son, Vusi Nhlakanipho Zuma, who was 25, in July last year after a short illness may have been the result of foul play.

On Monday, Mr Zuma told the commission that there had been many attempts on his life which had failed, the most recent one being at a music concert in Durban.

Justice Raymond Zondo condemned the threats made on Mr Zuma and his lawyer saying they were “totally unacceptable.”

“Our legal system is such that people can go to courts, or can go to the police if they have complaints against other people. It is totally unacceptable for anyone in our society to want to use violence, intimidation and all kinds of illegal means,” he said.

Although the threats did not make Zuma rethink giving evidence, his legal team protested he was being treated unfairly by being ambushed by cross-examiners.

This was after the former head of state was asked about the transfer of former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) director-general Themba Maseko.

Mr Maseko was allegedly moved after he rejected advances from the Gupta family to channel government funding to their media companies.

Senior Counsel Thabani Masuku objected to the line of questioning saying it fell outside the commission’s terms of reference.

GCIS is responsible for driving consistent government messaging and hires space in media companies for such.

The Gupta family, who are at the centre of the state capture allegations, owned a daily newspaper The New Age and a 24-hour television news channel, ANN7.

“I think let’s be fair and stick to what this commission is about, the terms of reference, bearing in mind that Mr Zuma’s assessment of this affidavit is that it does implicate him,” Mr Masuku said.

Unlike other witnesses, Mr Zuma was invited to the commission and did not submit statements as he believed he had not been implicated in any wrong doing.

Mr Masuku said the commission’s findings could have had criminal implications and therefore Mr Zuma should not be be asked about phone calls and meetings when no one had accused him of corruption or fraud.

Justice Zondo said an inquiry, unlike litigation, allowed people to present their side of the story.

On Monday, Mr Sikhakhane also it was unfair not to send Mr Zuma questions in advance so that he can prepare responses, accordingly.

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