Anything but arms deal discussed at arms deal commission

2013-08-28 17:36

The eighth day of the arms deal commission was spent discussing anything but the arms deal.

Today, three members of the SA Air Force (SAAF) were called to testify in Pretoria.

Brigadier Generals John William Bayne and Pieter Burger from the SAAF opened the day’s proceedings with PowerPoint presentations highlighting the past and present capabilities of the force’s aircraft and helicopters.

The two will be called again at a later stage to testify on their role and knowledge of the arms deal.

Through the controversial deal, fighter jets – the Hawk Mk 120 and the Gripen – and Light Utility Helicopters were acquired.

Burger made reference to the 2000 Mozambique floods where the helicopters played a vital role in saving lives after the country was submerged.

Major General Gerald Malinga, deputy chief of the SAAF, who in his statement said he was not involved in the arms deal, was called to the stand next.

But his testimony is unlikely to shed any further light on the rationale for, and processes of, the arms deal.

“Since I was not directly involved in the setting up of the SDPPs (the arms deal) I have no personal knowledge of the relevant facts and I am not in a position to describe the process and/or the rationale for the SDPPs.

“Accordingly, to the extent that I comment on these I do so on the basis of information that I have received,” he said.

Malinga testified to the functions of the defence force, including how its capabilities aid in the preservation of life, health or property, the provision or maintenance of essential services, for example when hospitals are understaffed, and assisting in upholding law and order in support of the SAPS.

Before adjournment, he briefly testified on the capabilities of the aircraft acquired through the multibillion-rand deal.

Malinga will continue his testimony on Friday morning at 9.30am. The commission will not sit tomorrow.

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