Arms deal 'middleman' reveals himself

2014-12-11 13:59
(File: AFP)

(File: AFP)

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Pretoria - The alleged middleman in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms procurement deal on Thursday abandoned his bid to bar the media from publishing his photograph.

After the media indicated it would oppose the application brought by Fana Hlongwana, his lawyer, Jaap Cilliers SC, said they "withdrew their application".

"In order to assist the commission and... avoid media sensation, we withdraw the application," Cilliers said.

Earlier Cillers said having cameras focused on Hlongwana could also affect the way in which he delivered his testimony.

"Up until now, there has never been any publication of him in the press and he's able to move around freely," said Cilliers, highlighting the fact that his client was a "very private" person.

"If published, everyone in South Africa will recognise him and this will affect his family," he said, adding that previous threats had been made against his client.

A few seconds earlier, his client had entered the auditorium, followed by a team of journalists with clicking cameras, photographing him.

Dressed in a blue suit, a blue-and-white striped shirt, he confidently walked into the auditorium where the inquiry into the arms procurement deal was to be heard.

Hlongwana had wanted to stop the media from publishing his image, arguing that this would infringe on his safety, privacy and the security of his family. He claimed it would also negatively affect his business and all the media attention could hamper his testimony.

His testimony would play a crucial role in the proceedings as he served as an arms consultant and adviser to then defence minister Joe Modise.

The commission is holding public hearings into alleged corruption in the arms deal.

At the time, the government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy.

The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago.

Zuma recently extended the terms of the commission until 30 April 2015, after which it will be expected to issue a report within a six-month deadline.



Read more on:    pretoria  |  arms deal

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