Judge Raymond Zondo warned he would lay a criminal charge against former president Jacob Zuma for walking out of the commission on state capture last week.
Zondo said: “The decision by Mr. Zuma to leave the commission without permission and in the face of a valid and binding summons is a serious matter.
“As long as the summons stood it was binding and it was not up to him to excuse himself. Nevertheless Mr. Zuma did excuse himself.”
Zondo said he had instructed the secretary of the commission Itumeleng Mosala to lay a charge with the police “so that the police can investigate his conduct” and turn the case over to the National Prosecuting Authority.
He said he would set new dates for Zuma to testify and have summons served on the former president to appear.
But Zondo went further and said the commission would approach the Constitutional Court to seek an urgent order compelling Zuma to respect the summons.
This would mean that, if successful, Zuma would be in contempt of court if he failed to appear on the set dates or failed to submit the affidavits and would therefore risk arrest.
Zondo said it was important to deal with Zuma’s defiance because it might send a signal to other witnesses that they “can come and go as they please before this commission”.
Zuma had been summonsed to appear before the commission for five days last week.
However, he responded by bringing an application for Zondo to recuse himself.
When Zondo dismissed the application on Thursday, Zuma and his lawyer Muzi Sikhakhane staged a walkout and said they would lay a complaint against the judge.