Arms deal hearing postponed

2013-02-26 21:39
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Johannesburg - Public hearings on South Africa's multi-million rand arms deal have been postponed, the Arms Procurement Commission said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson William Baloyi said the hearings, which were scheduled to start on 4 March, had been moved to 5 August.

The delays were because of developments in the investigation.

Baloyi said hefty documents not seen previously by evidence leaders and the commission had been presented by witnesses.

"There is insufficient time to peruse and analyse these, supplement the commission’s bundles, consult with the witnesses in respect of such documents and deal with the issues arising there from," he said.

Baloyi said witnesses had also been making allegations against other individuals and entities.

"The adjournment will enable the investigations relating to these and other allegations to be completed, and adequate notice to be given to all implicated persons," he said.

The commission was also still awaiting reports from specialist investigators.

The arms deal commission was instigated by President Jacob Zuma.

In October 2011, Zuma announced that Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Willie Seriti would chair the three-man commission of inquiry, assisted by judges Hendrick Musi and Francis Legodi.

In January, one of the commission's senior investigators, lawyer Norman Moabi, accused it of having a second agenda.

Moabi, a former acting judge from Pretoria, alleged in a letter leaked to media that the commission was not transparent and concealed a "second agenda".

Moabi wrote in the letter, addressed to Seriti, that he was resigning because of interference and because he had lost faith in the commission's work.

According to Moabi, Seriti ruled the commission with an iron fist.

He claimed facts were manipulated or withheld from commissioners.

Contributions from commissioners not pursuing the "second agenda" were frequently ignored, he alleged.

Challenged

Seriti challenged Moabi to provide proof of his claims.

Initially, Judge Willem van der Merwe - the judge who acquitted Zuma on a rape charge - was appointed to help Seriti, alongside Legodi.

However, in December 2011, the presidency said Van der Merwe would not be able to serve on the commission, for personal reasons.

Zuma then appointed Free State High Court Judge President Musi to replace Van der Merwe.

In May 2012, commission secretary Mvuseni Ngubane was found dead in his car in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal.

Police said a suicide note was found near the body, but parts of it were illegible because of blood stains. It was thus not clear why he committed suicide.

Ngubane would have been responsible for managing the commission's budget and ensuring it had administrative support.

The multi-million rand arms deal has dogged South Africa's politics since it was signed in 1999, after then Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille raised allegations of corruption in Parliament.

Zuma was himself charged with corruption after his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who had a tender to supply part of the requirements, was found to have facilitated a bribe for him from a French arms company.

The charges against Zuma were later dropped.

- SAPA

Read more on:    mvuseni ngubane  |  willem van der merwe  |  jacob zuma  |  william baloyi  |  willie seriti  |  johannesburg  |  military
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