Arms deal inquiry criticism 'regrettable'

2013-08-05 10:14
Willie Seriti (File, Beeld)

Willie Seriti (File, Beeld)

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Pretoria - Widespread criticism questioning the credibility of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry is regrettable, spokesperson William Baloyi said on Monday.

"We are obviously concerned about all sorts of things being said about the commission. Those things have an effect on the public’s perception," he said.

"We are going to ensure that everything at the commission will be transparent and members of the public will be able to see for themselves.

"They [the public] will be allowed to cross-examine witnesses at the commission."

Transparent

He said citizens wanting to question witnesses at the commission were required to apply to commission chairperson Judge Willie Seriti.

"The commission will consider all the applications made by the public and they will be allowed to examine witnesses. Everything will be done in a transparent manner, above the board," said Baloyi.

The commission is investigating alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal and public hearings were scheduled to get under way in Pretoria on Monday.

This comes after a five-month delay and the 11th-hour resignation of one of the commissioners.

Baloyi said the hearings would not be delayed because of the resignation of Judge Francis Legodi last week.

"As I am talking to you, we are busy accrediting people who want to take part in the public hearings. We expect to have the first witnesses on the stand by tomorrow [Tuesday]."

Setbacks

The Democratic Alliance has said Legodi’s resignation - for undisclosed personal reasons - was "the latest setback in a series of setbacks" suffered by the commission since it was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in late 2011.

These included the immediate resignation of Judge Willem van der Merwe, followed by those of senior investigator Norman Moabi in January and law researcher Kate Painting in March.

Baloyi said on Sunday that one of the evidence leaders, Tayob Aboobaker, had retracted his resignation letter. Baloyi could not disclose why he wanted to resign. However, according to the Sunday Times, which said it had seen the resignation letter, Aboobaker criticised the commission for nepotism, lack of professionalism, and infighting.

 

Read more on:    willie seriti  |  arms deal

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