Cloud over Seriti arms deal probe

2013-01-17 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The integrity of the Seriti Commission is in jeopardy since the leaking of a damning resignation letter by one of its investigators.

Senior investigator Norman Moabi alleged that the commission of inquiry into the arms deal scandal is not transparent and is driven by a “second agenda”.

Moabi, a lawyer and former acting judge in Pretoria, said in his letter to chairperson Judge Willie Seriti that he was resigning because of interference and because he had lost faith in the commission’s work.

“I came to the commission to serve with integrity, dignity and truthfulness,” he wrote.

“I cannot with a clear conscience pretend to be blind to what is going on at the commission.”

Moabi said Seriti was running the commission with an iron hand and information was being manipulated and withheld from some commission members.

Inputs from individuals who did not advance the “second agenda” are excluded, he alleges. He quotes certain “comments/statements” to support his opinion.

• “When we will have dealt with the first witnesses, they will not again make noises in the public media.”

• “When you look at the submissions made by the Terry Crawford-Brownes of this world, you realise that they are not factual but are based on hearsay. There is no substance in what they have said in the public media up to now.”

Crawford-Browne, who campaigned for years for a proper investigation of the arms deal, wrote to the U.S. Justice Department at the end of last year, saying he had lost faith in the Seriti commission.

He said Moabi’s resignation letter confirmed his belief that the commission was not open and transparent.

“The letter does not surprise me. The commission has been running around for more than a year without achieving anything.

“The whole thing is intended to be yet another cover-up.”

Sister paper Beeld contacted Moabi, who declined to comment.

He was surprised that his letter had been leaked.

Seriti commission spokesperson William Baloyi said the commission had only one agenda — to investigate the matter as directed by the president.

“Any other agenda alluded to by Mr Moabi is a fabrication.”

He said the commission was making preparations for public hearings, which would begin in March.

“We give the South African public the assurance that all relevant information in our possession will be made public and examined during the hearings.”

Mthunzi Mhaga, a spokesperson for the Justice ministry, said he was not aware of Moabi’s letter and it was a matter for the commission to handle.

Paul Hoffman, a director of the Accountability Institute, said the commission’s lack of progress supported Moabi’s allegation that there is a “second agenda”.

He added that if the commission thought that threats would put Crawford-Browne off, they were mistaken.

“They obviously don’t know him.

“He won’t be giving up soon.”

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