Two arms deal evidence leaders resign

2014-07-26 05:00
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Johannesburg - Two evidence leaders resigned on Friday from the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the 1999 arms deal.

"The arms procurement commission confirms that it received and accepted in principle the resignations of evidence leaders, advocates Barry Skinner and Carol Sibiya," spokesperson William Baloyi said in a statement.

"The reasons behind their resignations cannot be disclosed as they are the subjects of ongoing engagement with the commission."

He said the resignations would not interrupted the commission's work and the public hearings would proceed.

Earlier, Baloyi would not confirm reports that the two had resigned.

This was after The Times reported that Skinner and Sibiya wrote a 15-page letter of resignation this week to Judge Willie Seriti, who chairs the commission.

In the letter, they claimed they were being treated disrespectfully by the commission's head of legal research, Advocate Fanyana Mdumbe.

President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of the commission, chaired by Seriti, in October 2011.

Its aim is to investigate alleged corruption in the country's multi-billion rand arms procurement deal.

Since the announcement, the commission has been dogged by claims that its integrity might be compromised.

Judge Willem van der Merwe resigned in 2011 for personal reasons, immediately after being appointed by Zuma as a commissioner.

He was replaced by Free State Judge President Hendrick Musi.

In January last year, senior commission investigator Norman Moabi quit.

Moabi, a lawyer and former acting judge from Pretoria, alleged in a letter, leaked to Beeld newspaper, that the commission was not being transparent and concealing an alternative or "second agenda".

According to Moabi, Seriti ruled the commission with an iron fist and facts were manipulated or withheld from commissioners. Contributions from commissioners who did not pursue the "second agenda" were frequently ignored.

Law researcher Kate Painting resigned last March, followed by commissioner Judge Francis Legodi last August.

In April this year, chief evidence leader Tayob Aboobaker resigned.

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