South Africa `State-Capture' Body Starts Probe, Plans Hearings

(Bloomberg) -- A South African judicial commission probing allegations that members of the Gupta family and their allies worked with former President Jacob Zuma and his son to loot billions of rand from state coffers has started its work and will provide an update next week.

Investigators are analyzing “thousands” of documents and information relating to various accusations and cases that are received daily, said Nathi Mncube, a spokesman for the country’s judiciary. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is chairing the so-called State Capture Commission of Inquiry.

Zondo and his panel must probe an array of deals between state entities and private businesses, some of them set up to obscure the intended beneficiaries. It will require interviewing scores of witnesses, many of who may be reluctant to give evidence because they risk implicating themselves. Several key players, including the three Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma, have fled the country.

The commission has yet to secure a venue for public hearings, Mncube said.

State power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has been mired in a series of scandals, including allegations of corruption linked to the Guptas and their allies, and has swung from being unable to generate sufficient electricity to supply Africa’s most-industrialized to economy to having excess capacity. Transnet SOC Ltd., the freight rail, port and pipelines operator, has also been accused of doing questionable deals with the Guptas and their supporters, enabling them to earn massive kickbacks on a locomotives deal.

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