Shaik’s ‘fake arms deal letter’

2014-05-16 00:00

CHIPPY Shaik signed a letter pretending to be the “secretary of defence ” to create a “new” committee that eventually helped to make the final choices in the multi-million rand arms deal.

Former Lieutenant-General Pierre Steyn, who was then the real secretary of defence, yesterday told the Seriti commission he had never given Shaik the mandate to write the letter.

“He also did not have the authority, or my delegated authority, to write such a letter or create the committee,” Steyn said. He said following the letter, Shaik chaired the so-called Sofcom, a committee that helped to decide which strategic weapons South Africa would buy.

Shaik signed the letter with his signature resembling a dollar sign. Steyn said he neglected to use the secretary’s file reference on the top right of the letter, because he used his own file reference as head of procurement.

Steyn said Sofcom was not authorised to take any decisions on purchasing arms, because it was a parallel committee, but it nevertheless did. He said the Sofcom committee also circumvented other committees.

Steyn testified that former defence minister Joe Modise was very keen to get the arms deal approved quickly. Steyn said to get the equipment properly evaluated would have taken 10 months, but Modise said if the evaluations were to take that long, the arms deal would be dead.

“He refused to accept the constant delays with the evaluations and insisted it had to be completed by the end of July 1998.”

Shaik in the same meeting said he would be ready by July with a decision on what to buy. He then suggested that the evaluations committees had to be excluded to expedite the process. Directly after this meeting, Shaik wrote the letter in which he called himself the secretary of defence and created Sofcom.

Steyn said he is convinced Shaik created Sofcom with the approval of Modise.

Steyn said this cleared the way to circumvent both the approval processes and head of the army General George Meiring and prevented him from doing his job as chief accounting officer for the department.

He said that with the Sofcom committee Shaik created confusion and tension between all the involved parties, which became a major contributing factor in the dysfunction of the procurement process.

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