Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday testified that he had never been friends with former South Africa President Jacob Zuma as the commission of inquiry into “state capture” heard a legal application from the former president for his recusal.
Zuma had applied for the Deputy Chief Justice to recuse himself as the head of a commission investigating corruption during his presidency.
“That is not accurate,” Zondo said, as he enumerated the times over the past two and a half decades that the pair’s paths have crossed.
Zondo said he paid his respects when one of Zuma’s wives died “18 or 20 years ago”, but Zuma had never attended any of his family funerals or more mundane events like birthday celebrations.
The inquiry, known as the Zondo Commission, was established to investigate the “state capture” scandal during Mr. Zuma’s tenure as president.
The scandal revolves around allegations that the wealthy Gupta family, who are close friends of the former president, used their relationship to be unfairly awarded millions worth of dollars of government contracts.
It is also alleged that they were able to influence political decisions, including the naming of ministers.
The former president and the Gupta family deny any wrongdoing.
Mr. Zuma, who first testified before the commission last year and was due to return to give further evidence, has previously said that the inquiry is biased against him.
He claimed that the investigation was politically motivated and that the evidence against him was part of a witchhunt.
Mr. Zondo at some stage suggested the inquiry would subpoena the former president when he announced that he would no longer willingly present himself.
Accusations of graft dogged Mr. Zuma’s presidency before he was forced to step down in February 2018.