Thabo Mbeki before arms deal commission in June

2014-04-25 14:37

The much anticipated testimony of the highest-ranking decision makers in the multi-billion rand arms deal saga, including former President Thabo Mbeki, will be heard in the first week of June.

The Seriti commission has released an updated list of witnesses, which includes the vote-no campaigner and former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, former chief negotiator in the arms deal Jay Naidoo, Cope president and former minister of defence Mosiuoa Lekota, former finance minister Trevor Manuel and Mbeki.

City Press understands that the commission is eager to stick to the dates listed for the five who will all be questioned in one week only – from May 29 until June 5 2014.

That leaves each witness a day to be examined by the evidence leaders and to be cross-examined by any party that wishes to do so.

When the names of the five were first published as witnesses last year, they objected to not being allowed to use their own legal representation.

Commission spokesperson William Baloyi said the matter of legal fees and private lawyers had been resolved and that any witness appearing before the commission, including the five, could use state lawyers and private lawyers, but the witnesses would have to foot the bill for private legal representation.

The new list is one of many revisions in the first phase of the commission, which was supposed to have completed its work last November but was granted an extension of a year.

It is still not known when the second phase of the commission will start.

The finalised list, which was released this afternoon, starts off with former manager of Armscor Heinrich de Waal Esterhuyse, after which the commission will call two other retired naval officers, Rear Admiral Anthony Howell and Captain Andrew Reed, who were involved with the evaluation process of the deal.

On May 14 and 15, the commission is scheduled to call in former secretary of defence Pierre Steyn. Steyn was among one of the few involved in the deal who resigned from the position because of his views that the cost of the British Aerospace Hawk was too high and that another bidder should have received the contract.

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