#StateCaptureInquiry: Ngidi sets the record straight about his withdrawal

Attorney Comfort Ngidi has dismissed media reports about his role at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

He says that he withdrew from the commission because of time constraints, instead of conflict of interest complaints mentioned in the media.

Ngidi is a Jacob Zuma loyalist who led a group of "concerned" KwaZulu-Natal lawyers on a campaign to discredit former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla report.

The inquiry, chaired by Justice Raymond Zondo, is an outcome of the State of Capture report by Madonsela.

Concerns over his appointment were raised in the media, particularly his conflict related to his public utterances about Madonsela.

Earlier this week, he withdrew his request to be considered for a role in the commission's legal or investigative team.

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At the time of his withdrawal, the commission said in a statement: 'The reasons advanced by Mr Ngidi for the withdrawal of his request include that when he made his request, the commission was meant to complete its work within six months but now it has said that it needs 24 months and he would not be available for such a long time."

'Possible conflict of interest'

Speaking to News24 on Friday, Ngidi confirmed this.

"I was seized with the brief to apply for their extension from 180 days. I realised that they require at least 24 months.

"Secondly, there was a concern about possible conflict of interest due to my public utterances regarding Advocate Madonsela's Nkandla report. Our office took a view that this commission is more important to our country and our young democracy. Therefore, if what the media suggested has any legal basis, I must decline the appointment," he said. 

Ngidi added that he asked advocate Vuyani Ngalwana SC to establish whether such a concern from the media was justified in terms of the law and the rules of the law society.

"[Ngalwana] came to a conclusion that there was no basis in terms of the facts and the law for me to refuse the appointment as I have never acted for former president Zuma or his family or the Guptas. 

"[Ngalwana] also advised that I have never even commented on the state capture report. So, this was not a barrier at all. Our oath of office is such that we have to administer justice without fear or favour. The issue however, was that I could not undertake the commission work for the next 24 months largely based in Gauteng."

Ngidi said he would he would continue to do work for the state capture commission on an ad hoc basis if required.

"I also urge all of us to provide whatever support as may be needed by the commission."