Civil Society Demands Accountability for State Capture Criminals

22 July 2021

The Civil Society Working Group on State Capture has called for the accountability of criminals fingered in the State Capture Commission of Inquiry led by deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

The group says that the recent unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is a direct result of the criminality of the State Capture actors and that not only the rioters and looters needed to face the law, but also those implicated in corruption at the commission.

The organisations say that the capacity of state institutions has already been weakened and that the effect of the looting will have far-reaching effects that go beyond just financial consequences.

The full statement reads:

Show us the receipts!

The recent tragic days of violence in South Africa are, in large part, a legacy of State Capture. The Civil Society Working Group on State Capture (CSWG) calls on state institutions to hold accountable the individuals and groups instrumental in the instigation of violence and looting in KZN, Gauteng and across South Africa. However, we believe it would be wrong for law enforcement to only criminalise individuals involved in riots when the perpetrators of State Capture have not yet been held accountable. We again call for the powerful corporations and individuals who looted and enabled State Capture to be held to account and brought to book. Rebuilding the country demands that this be done.


These perpetrators of economic crimes profited from their misdeeds for over 10 years while neglecting the provision of basic services to the people of South Africa. This created the conditions for political manipulation, greed and food riots, linked to hunger and poverty, with the lives of many lost in the unrest. which started 10 days ago. The enablers of State Capture are responsible for creating the environment in which we find ourselves today, through weakening the country’s democratic institutions, eroding state capacity and selfishly robbing the country of its much-needed resources. The criminality and corrupt actions of these powerful corporations, politicians and individuals have been instrumental in driving people into grinding poverty and deepened inequality and unemployment.

The consequences of the looting have been dire and extend beyond financial loss. The capacity of the state has been severely eroded, the economy weakened with revenue short-falls and dysfunctional state-owned entities that are diverting funds away from social spending where it is most needed. It is unconscionable that constitutionally enshrined human rights such as healthcare, social security, housing and basic education, have been compromised because of the actions of corrupt individuals.

The struggle against State Capture and corruption in South Africa is a struggle for human rights. The ongoing revelations at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture (the Zondo Commission) continue to lay bare the various networks of looters in the public and private sector who have criminally enriched themselves at the expense of the most vulnerable.

Now is also the time to ensure that swift and decisive action is taken to remove and hold to account compromised individuals that remain within key state institutions, some of whom were strategically placed and continue to stall efforts towards justice, accountability and the rule of law. Many of them remain part of the fight-back network that hopes to again profit from the chaos that has erupted this month.

The Civil Society Working Group on State Capture again reiterates that law enforcement agencies should focus their attention on the individuals and corporations who have either allegedly been complicit in State Capture or might have information that can assist the state in challenging the State Capture networks.

Endorsed by: 

  • Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF)
  • Black Sash (BS) 
  • Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals)
  • Corruption Watch (CW)
  • Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac)
  • Dullah Omar Institute (DOI)
  • Equal Education (EE)
  • Freedom Under Law (FUL)
  • Judges Matter (JM)
  • Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
  • MyVoteCounts (MVC)
  • Open Secrets (OS)
  • Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa)
  • Public Affairs Research Institute (Pari)
  • Right2Know (R2K)
  • Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
  • SECTION27 (S27)

This piece was first published in the Daily Maverick, on the 21 July 2021, available here.

Civil Society Supports Zondo Commission – Tells Zuma to Respect the Constitution

9 March 2021

Some of South Africa’s foremost civil society organisations have come out strongly in support of the State Capture Commission and have insisted that former president Jacob Zuma abide by the law. The 13 civil society organisations released a joint statement overnight stating that the politicising of the Zondo Commission needs to stop, while condemning Zuma’s continued defiance of the commission.

The statement reads:

We, representatives of civil society, jointly issue this statement condemning former president Jacob Zuma’s insistence on defying the State Capture Commission and the dangerous attacks he and other political actors have levelled at the judiciary without offering evidence in support of such charges.  

This kind of behaviour and blatant disregard of the law shows that those who are implicated in looting the state will place their own selves before the law, and before others whose lives their crimes have impacted.

South Africans have been waiting patiently, for nearly a decade, to hear the truth about State Capture. The Zondo Commission, which is funded by the public, must be allowed to do its job on behalf of the country. 

Activists, whistle-blowers and community leaders have shown their support of and submitted evidence to the commission.  

We wish also to indicate our support for the commission and the importance of its mandate at a time when it faces such baseless attacks. It is time to stop politicising the Zondo Commission and follow the laws that apply to us all. 

We know all too well that we come from a past of unconscionable inhumanity and inequality, where immunity for those who oversaw and implemented apartheid was the order of the day.

Our Constitution was always intended to represent a break from that past. It rests on the predicate that all of us are equal before this law

There can be no more harmful assault on this bedrock than that a former president, who has enjoyed every power and privilege under this law – and continues to enjoy the privileges of his former office – should insist that he be immune from the reach of the commission and of the Constitutional Court, and that this impunity stand unchecked. 

That he would insist on immunity while also seeking to sully the reputation of our judiciary, but making no credible case for these damaging charges, is but a further affront. 

Every citizen, including the state itself, is beholden to the Constitution, including Mr Zuma, and we trust that the Constitutional Court will find accordingly when it considers this matter on 25 March 2021. 

We have all come too far to allow underhanded politics to poison the well of truth and justice.

Signed by: 

  • Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) 
  • Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC)  
  • Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) 
  • Corruption Watch (CW) 
  • Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) 
  • Freedom Under Law (FUL) 
  • Legal Resources Centre (LRC) 
  • MyVoteCounts (MVC)  
  • Open Secrets (OS) 
  • Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) 
  • Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) 
  • Right2Know (R2K) 
  • South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

First published in Daily Maverick by Civil Society Group on State Capture.

No One is Above the Law, says FUL, Not Even the Former President

20 November 2020

MEDIA STATEMENT BY FREEDOM UNDER LAW

No one is above the law, not even a former president.

Mr Zuma’s walk-out of the State Capture Inquiry on Thursday was a calculated act of defiance of the Commission and a wilful display of contempt for the rule of law. The former president was given every courtesy by Judge Zondo, who afforded him the fullest opportunity to present his argument and by his conduct Mr Zuma made plain that the whole recusal application was a sham. Mr Zuma never intended giving evidence and the argument presented on his behalf was without merit.

The former president was lawfully summonsed to give evidence, he blatantly refused to do so. The law allows a witness who has good cause not to give evidence before a commission to advance such cause and to be excused. Instead Mr Zuma preferred to put up a political show. Freedom Under Law respectfully suggests that such disgraceful conduct by a former head of state must compel the strongest action from the Commission in response. If a former president can get away with such a blatant challenge to the rule of law, how can the rest of us be expected to obey the law.

Civil Society Working Group Submits Joint Agenda for Action to Zondo Commission

19 February 2020

The Civil Society Working Group (CSWG) on State Capture jointly submitted an Agenda for Action – a summary of civil society’s recommendations – to the Zondo Commission.

The CSWG is comprised of more than twenty civil society organisations, of which Freedom Under Law is one.

Click below to download the full submission:

Civil Society Condemn Attacks on Zondo Commission

27 November 2018

We, civil society organisations in South Africa, express our deep concern at the attacks made in recent days on the State Capture Commission by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

 Such attacks include statements by EFF leader Julius Malema in which he:

  • Described the Commission as a “Mickey Mouse Show”;
  • Accused its chairperson of stealing money from the poor;
  • Referred to the evidence leader of the Commission as “a bastard’;
  • Referred to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as “a dog of white monopoly capital”, threatened that there could be “loss of life”, and falsely claimed that Gordhan has a hatred for black people; and
  • Falsely accused Gordhan’s daughter of securing through her father, and benefiting from, government business

Civil society is the first to recognise that a robust, healthy democracy requires competing views and protest. However, expression and protest action that threatens violence and harm, that looks to flirt with racist and bigoted sentiment and with hate speech can only erode our constitutional democracy, not strengthen it. Repeated, unsubstantiated claims, in addition to being all of that mentioned above, reveal an agenda that goes beyond criticism of the commission. It smacks of a deliberate attempt to undermine it and the participants who are uncovering the web of state capture and corruption.

Processes of governance, including commissions of enquiry, should not be insulated from considered criticism.  However, the threats contained in the EFF’s utterances not only place those witnesses who have testified before the commission and its officials in harm’s way, but will also have a chilling effect on any potential witnesses who may have information that could assist the Commission. This could render the work of the Commission meaningless, and help the culprits involved in state capture walk free without being investigated or called to account.

There is understandably great interest in the Commission’s proceedings. It has the potential not only to lay bare which parts of our constitutional state have been hollowed out, how this came about and who is responsible but what the cost has been for ordinary South Africans. Its recommendations may be critical to future protection of our democracy and realising the promise of our Constitution for all South Africans. It is clear that the evidence laid before the commission will result in prosecutions, which may explain the level of vitriol against witnesses. Full assessment of whether the Commission delivers on this potential can only be made at its conclusion.

In this context, the onslaught by the EFF in the media and outside the venue of the Commission, combined with a relentless social media campaign, shows that they are intent on drowning out and forcing a shutdown of the work of the Commission. This is an attack on our very democracy, and must be strenuously resisted. We call on the EFF, if it is possession of incriminating evidence relating to state capture and corruption, to make a full disclosure and present it to the Commission. In the same vein, we urge the Commission to use the powers at its disposal to compel persons who claim to have relevant incriminating evidence, to appear before it.

We as a society have sacrificed too much, and our people denied the basic necessities of life for too long, to not insist that the Commission’s work is taken to a proper conclusion.

Issued by:

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Corruption Watch

Freedom Under Law

Helen Suzman Foundation

Johannesburg Against  Injustice

Section 27

FUL Concerned at Intimidation of Zondo Commission Staff and Witnesses

23 November 2018

Freedom Under Law (FUL)is concerned at the protests and utterances which occurred this week outside the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. 

FUL recognises that protest, safeguarded by the right to free expression and association, is intrinsic to any constitutional democracy. However protest which threatens violence and harm must register as a threat. So too, protest designed to intimidate and undermine  a commission of inquiry established to address allegations of state capture and corruption and to intimidate witnesses appearing before the commission.

FUL notes in particular the attacks on the evidence leader of the Commission, Mr Paul Pretorius and on the Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan and his family. These attacks seem aimed at intimidating those undertaking their professional responsibilities in respect of the Commission and in deterring other prospective witnesses from appearing before the Commission.

FUL calls on those parties alleging that they have incriminating evidence relevant to state capture to make full disclosure to the Commission and not seek to erode its processes. It urges the Commission to use such powers as it has to compel those publicly maintaining they have such evidence to appear before it.