Court rules in favour of arms deal picket

2014-06-12 12:14
The commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

The commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

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Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court on Thursday granted the Right2Know Campaign permission to picket at the Sammy Marks Square in central Pretoria where the Seriti arms inquiry is based.

Judge Andre de Vries granted the order after hearing submissions from Lawyers for Human Rights attorney, acting for the Campaign, Patricia Erasmus and a lawyer for Tshwane.

The order states that the campaign is allowed to hold a gathering at the entrance to the Square, on Helen Joseph (former Church) Street.

The Tshwane metro police was restricted from dispersing, obstructing and interfering with the gathering.

‘A flagrant disregard for the right to protest’

The ruling also states that the municipal police was barred from "using weapons likely to cause serious bodily injury or death against the participants of the gathering".

Erasmus had argued that the decision to stop the planned picket was a flagrant disregard for the right to protest.

"We did not want to come to court. This is a last resort. We tried to negotiate with the respondents (Tshwane), saying to them 'if we can't picket at the commission, can we picket somewhere else'," said Erasmus.

"The issue of urgency has been occasioned by the respondents, by their unwillingness to negotiate." She said the metro police were flouting the Gatherings Act.

Mbeki not testifying this week

The campaign initially wanted to picket outside the commission when former president Thabo Mbeki testifies at the inquiry probing the controversial 1999 arms deal.

However, the campaign will now picket on Thursday when former finance minister Trevor Manuel testifies at the inquiry.

Mbeki was supposed to testify this week but his mother Epainette died on Saturday. The commission is expected to make an announcement on whether his testimony will be postponed.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand deal.

The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy.
- SAPA
Read more on:    right2know  |  thabo mbeki  |  trevor manuel  |  pretoria  |  military  |  arms deal  |  protests
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