Arms deal commission resumes

2013-08-19 08:39

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The inquiry into the arms deal is expected to resume in Pretoria today.

The Seriti Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Justice Willie Seriti with Justice Thekiso Musi as a member, was postponed by a fortnight after lawyers for the defence department said time was needed to decide how to proceed with the declassification of documents relevant to the inquiry.

Yesterday, City Press reported that declassification of more than a million pages of evidence has not yet been completed by the defence department.

Siphiwe Dlamini, the department’s spokesperson, would not confirm whether the process had been completed, but said declassification was not a simple, one-off event.

“This process could never take two weeks. But on Monday (tomorrow) we will put our case before the commission and say how far we are,” he said.

He added the department did not want to delay the proceedings any further.

On August 5, Seriti said he received a draft of an urgent court application against the commission on August 4.

One of the concerns raised was whether the commission could continue with only two commissioners, following the announcement of Justice Francis Legodi’s resignation on August 1.

The applicant, the defence department, believed the commission could not proceed with just two commissioners.

Seriti said at the time this was a decision President Jacob Zuma needed to make.

On August 6, the presidency said the inquiry would continue as a two-person commission while Zuma considered whether to appoint a third member.

The commission is investigating alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.

Last week, City Press reported there were still more than 4 million pages of arms deal evidence gathered by the former Scorpions unit the commission had not read.

After publication, the commission announced it had appointed a service provider to scan the documents.

Sources say because the declassification has not been completed, it may obstruct how defence department witnesses testify.

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