Arms deal hearings begin

Pretoria - The public hearings in the probe into South Africa's multi-billion rand arms deal would not interfere with the criminal investigations linked to the matter, public protector Selby Baqwa said on Monday.

Opening the proceedings in the Pretoria High Court he said evidence that might jeopardise criminal investigations would not be exposed.

"Witnesses who might be called during the public phase who might also have been approached in the criminal investigation will not be questioned with regard these aspects of the investigation in public.

Baqwa emphasised that the public hearings were complimentary to the investigation into the allegations of corruption in the arms procurement programme.

Three government agencies - Baqwa's office, the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor-General's Office -- are probing between 40 and 50 allegations of wrongdoing in the arms deal at the request of Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee, Scopa.

In terms of the arms procurement package, South Africa will over the next few years acquire four corvettes and three submarines, 30 light utility helicopters, 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers and 28 Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft.

A team of about 30 members from the three agencies and a number of experts contracted from outside are handling the criminal and forensic probe.

The hearings are scheduled to continue for two months.

Baqwa said the hearings would allow the public to be informed of what the arms deal saga was all about.

The hearings would also not be of accusatorial nature.

"This is another phase in the process," he said.

Baqwa is chairman of the panel leading the hearing.

The other two members of the panel are Herman van Zyl of the Auditor-General's office and Silas Ramaite of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

Baqwa said allegations levelled against the programme included improper conduct and maladministration.

It was in the public interest that all aspects of the arms deal be investigated.

"Our intention is to proceed with speed."

Baqwa briefly allowed television cameras into the courtroom to film footage of the venue.

He said an application would be heard later on whether to allow broadcasters to record and televise proceedings.- Sapa

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
President Ramaphosa has punted the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for South Africans. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
The right thing to do. We desperately need more South Africans vaccinated to prevent further mutations and restore normality in our lives.
71% - 9472 votes
A risky strategy. Compulsory vaccinations may have unintended consequences and damage our rollout campaign.
29% - 3802 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.14
-1.3%
Rand - Pound
21.36
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
18.26
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.30
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.0%
Gold
1,783.48
0.0%
Silver
22.55
0.0%
Palladium
1,816.00
0.0%
Platinum
936.31
0.0%
Brent Crude
69.88
+0.3%
Top 40
64,307
-0.4%
All Share
70,808
-0.3%
Resource 10
66,503
-1.6%
Industrial 25
93,791
+0.1%
Financial 15
13,982
+0.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE