Govt silent over R1.2bn satellite

2014-01-21 11:14

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Johannesburg - The government has declined to answer any questions about the alleged development of a secret spy satellite which reportedly cost the taxpayer R1.2bn.

The Sunday Times reported on the existence of the project over the weekend, quoting DA MP David Maynier as saying the project could turn out to be one of the biggest scandals to hit the country.

Beeld reported on Tuesday that the department of state security would not confirm the existence of the satellite, and whether the government planned to use it to spy on South Africans, referring questions to the department of defence.

The defence department also declined Beeld's requests to comment on the matter, but a defence department spokesperson told the Sunday Times that project was classified.

According to Beeld, Maynier said the cost of the project could be even higher than R1.2bn, but the amount remains a secret because the project is classified. Maynier added that an estimated R2.8bn was channelled to the department's special defence account between 2006 and 2013, with some of the funding described as "the development of strategic information collecting ability".

The department of defence allegedly signed an agreement with a Russian company to develop a Condor-E-type surveying satellite. Russian media reports state that a satellite for an "anonymous foreign client" could be launched on 27 February this year, according to Beeld.

Read more on:    david maynier  |  security
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