'Lies': Public Protector should stop arms commission – Crawford-Browne

2013-09-05 09:01

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Anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne has written to the Public Protector requesting that the arms deal commission be shut down because "admirals shamelessly lied under oath about the state of the SANDF".

The commission, which has heard testimony from seven officials in the SA Navy and the SA Air Force (SAAF), has only been sitting for three weeks.

In his letter to the Public Protector, Crawford-Browne said both Judge Willie Seriti and the commission failed to meet the requirements of Section 2 of the Constitution that “conduct inconsistent with it is invalid, and the obligations imposed by it must be fulfilled".

Crawford-Browne alleges that:

» Admiral Alan Green contradicted what he had told Parliament last November, that the weaponry purchased in the arms deal was inoperable. Green has testified that though some vessels may not be at sea it doesn't mean they are inoperable. Most are in a maintenance cycle.

» Admiral Philip Schoultz blamed the fact that the navy lacks skilled personnel to repair or maintain the warships on poaching by the private sector. Schoultz thereby inadvertently confirmed what the Auditor-General had told Parliament back in 2000, namely that no consideration was given to the personnel requirements for the arms deal acquisitions.

» Brigadier General William Bayne contradicted the minister of defence's contention that almost half of the BAE/Saab Gripen fighter aircraft have been mothballed because the SAAF has too few pilots to fly them. Bayne testified that all aircraft are fully operational because that long-term storage was very costly.

Crawford-Browne has called on the Public Protector, the minister of justice and the president to terminate the commission when its mandate expires in November 2013, or preferably earlier.

"It is internationally accepted that fraudsters should not financially benefit from their fraud, and that the remedy for fraud is to cancel the contracts, return the equipment and to recover the money," he said.

But the officials who have testified said cancelling the contracts would mean more money would have to be spent on re-acquiring the equipment and this process could take years.

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