Stopping arms deal picket 'was wrong'

2014-06-12 10:18
Right2Know protesters (Lohanna Hoffmann, Beeld)

Right2Know protesters (Lohanna Hoffmann, Beeld)

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Pretoria - The Tshwane metro police decision to stop a picket outside the Seriti inquiry was a flagrant disregard for the right to protest, the North Gauteng High Court heard on Thursday.

Patricia Erasmus, for the Right2Know Campaign said the matter was urgent and of significant importance.

"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.

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

The Right2Know Campaign said on Wednesday it had no choice but to bring the appeal.

It said metro police claimed they had already granted two other organisations permission to picket and three units of police officers would be deployed.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils were testifying before the commission this week.

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  |  mosiua lekota  |  pretoria  |  military  |  arms deal
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