A much-criticised sick note submitted to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on behalf of former president Jacob Zuma is at the centre of a stayed arrest warrant issued against him. But who is the doctor who signed off on the note?
Judge Dhaya Pillay said Zuma’s sick note, presented to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday during his corruption trial, was not enough evidence to show why he could not attend his trial.
Pillay said while Zuma might indeed be sick, there was insufficient evidence before her to prove this.
Despite showing the note’s issued by One Military Hospital and a Dr ZK Motene, Pillay raised a few concerns.
The document did not mention Zuma’s condition, only stating “Medical condition” in a block next to the term “Layman’s diagnosis (with the consent of the patient)”, something Pillay said was unclear.
The date on the note also appeared to be altered to January 6, “but there is no initialling of that date”, Pillay said.
“It is not clear that ZK Motene, who signed this document, is indeed a registered medical practitioner. Mr (Daniel) Mantsha (Zuma’s lawyer) assumes it is his medical practice number. That is guesswork.”
As a result, Pillay issued an arrest warrant against Zuma for non-attendance, which has been stayed until May 6.
News has confirmed that Dr Zakes Kagiso Motene is indeed a military doctor who has been “assigned to Union Buildings work”. He is also registered as an active medical practitioner with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), according to its website register.
‘He is assigned to Union Buildings at presidential’
Upon contacting One Military Hospital, two officials confirmed Motene was not based at the facility. Instead, they said he worked at the highest level of national leadership.
One official said: “Dr Motene works at presidential.”
Another official from the casualty ward said: “He is assigned to Union Buildings at presidential.”
Defence department spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini could not immediately provide more details. “I have passed on your query to the relevant unit and will revert to you once I receive information.”
Motene’s Facebook page stated he has been working at One Military Hospital in Tshwane since February 2009.
According to his profile, he has been the physician executive at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for the past 10 years, the same place the sick note was issued from.
In a 2015 open letter to Deputy President David Mabuza, then-DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Motene also accompanied Mabuza, then-Mpumalanga premier, on a flight to Russia when Mabuza reportedly fell ill.
In 2015, Motene was honoured with a Madiba Medal of Outstanding Service for his contribution while on former president Nelson Mandela’s medical team.
A Twitter page belonging to Zakes Kagiso Motene is dotted with posts about Zuma, and there are suggestions the two might have known each other since 2014.
A tweet showing Zuma and Motene posing for a picture in 2014 indicate Motene’s support for Zuma, with the caption: “South Africa is in very good hands. The strides achieve in the past five years can only herald an even brighter future.”
The two also appear in two separate pictures taken at an event hosted by the Kings Park Sports Medicine Centre.
Motene is seemingly a fan of former Gupta-linked news channel ANN7, saying it was a “breath of fresh air. Such fair commentary is truly rare”.
Motene is the head of several companies and is the founding director of Innovative Laboratory Solutions of which his company, Z Kay M Consulting, is a shareholder.
He is also the founder and chairperson of Tsonga Afrika Investment Holdings and is listed as a SA distributor for Swiss watch manufacturer Slow.
According to its website, Tsonga Afrika is “open to Africans and other investors who share in the vision of pooling funds… with the view of pursuing maverick economic and business activities in a way that has never been previously achieved”.
Motene is a non-executive director of The People’s Fund, which is described as “an asset-backed crowdfunding platform for businesses that have found a market and are looking to grow their ability to deliver this value to their customers”.
On his profile for the fund, he is called “The Fixer”, seemingly because he is “a connector and problem-solver. If you’re looking for someone, he probably has them in his address book“, the website says.
‘That is disappointing’
News24 attempted to contact Motene for comment on multiple phone numbers on Wednesday but was unable to get hold of him. He did not respond to messages requesting comment.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko referred queries to the Department of Defence.
Zuma, meanwhile, has until May 6 to ensure he appears before the court, and adequately explains his reasons for non-attendance before the warrant kicks into effect.
His attorney, Mantsha, said outside court on Tuesday that they would scrutinize the reasoning of the judge and, upon instructions, decide the next course of action.
“Why would the court doubt a medical certificate from the military hospital? [That] is disappointing. I will have to talk to the doctors with Zuma if he is in a condition to listen to this, then we will engage. I will get advice from his medical team,” Mantsha said.