Arms deal witness list questioned

2012-12-12 22:50

Johannesburg - There are "glaring omissions" from the list of witnesses to be called at next year's Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal, arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne said on Wednesday.

"May I respectfully suggest that there are some glaring omissions from that list, including John Bredenkamp, Janet Charter [wife of Richard Charter], Thabo Mbeki, Alec Erwin and Trevor Manuel," Crawford-Browne said in a supplementary submission to the commission.

He also wanted to know why the companies BAE, Saab and the German frigate and submarine consortia were not being called.

He wanted to know why the commission rejected his request to subpoena former British prime minister Tony Blair when he was in South Africa in August 2012, arguing that the commission "forfeited an opportunity to interrogate and expose the involvement" of successive British governments, banks, arms companies and other syndicates by doing so.

Crawford-Browne believed the "three surviving ministers" - then deputy president Mbeki, then minister of trade and industry Erwin and then minister of finance Manuel, who comprised the Cabinet sub-committee that decided on the acquisitions, should be the first witnesses to testify at the public hearings.

He wanted Seriti to decide by March 2013 whether the arms deal was unconstitutional in terms of section 217 (1) and thus illegal.

Crawford-Browne is seeking to have the arms deal cancelled, and the money paid back to South Africa.

David Maynier, Patricia de Lille, Major General Hans Meiring, Colonel Johan du Plooy, Paul Hoffman, Crawford-Browne, Dr Richard Young, Gavin Woods, Andrew Woods, Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden, Raenette Taljaard, and Fana Hlongwane were announced as witnesses on 24 November.

Maynier is a Democratic Alliance MP and Du Plooy and Meiring are part of the Hawks.

Crawford-Browne, a retired banker, has spent years trying to get an independent inquiry into the arms deal established.

Feinstein is a former ANC MP.

Public hearings are to be held at the council chambers at the Sammy Marks Conference Centre in Pretoria between 4 March and 31 May.

Seriti would be assisted by judges Willem van der Merwe and Francis Legodi.

The deal, which was initially estimated to cost R43m, has dogged South Africa's politics since it was signed in 1999, after then Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille raised allegations of corruption in Parliament.

Zuma himself was once charged with corruption after his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who had a tender to supply part of the requirements, was found to have facilitated a bribe for him from a French arms company.

The charges against Zuma were later dropped.

  • francois.smith.7 - 2012-12-12 23:12

    Mbeki can sommer then answer a couple of questions on Zim as well and if they get Zuma, they can ask him if SA illegally sent arms to Bob.

  • christelle.theron.3 - 2012-12-13 00:17

    I cannot wait for this one!!! Popcorn out!

      walter.o.latham - 2012-12-13 06:33

      I agree Christelle. BUT, will there be further cover-ups? I think so; we'll never get to the bottom of it all. Too many important cogs failing to appear on the witness list. I'm waiting to read Crawford-Browne's next book!

      kalabafazi - 2012-12-13 08:26

      Its only just started and already there are failings in that key witnesses are not being called. This whole thing is just another farce like the enquiries before. I don't think we are ever going to here the whole truth in the arms deal.

  • Erna - 2012-12-13 00:34

    They forgot to add - 'Charges against zuma were later dropped - for no reason.'

  • Stephen Radebe - 2012-12-13 00:55

    Comrade in corruption.

  • Stephen Radebe - 2012-12-13 00:56

    Comrade in corruption.

  • lskosana3 - 2012-12-13 03:07

    Hope this inquiry means that the thug called Zuma is FINALLY going to be held accountable for his crimes

  • sally.lewitt - 2012-12-13 03:46

    Wish they'd just cut to the chase so we can see all the 'big' heads roll that have enriched themselves including our current Zoo-ma and cronies...

  • dee.bone.39 - 2012-12-13 03:55

    how much has already been spent on trying to sort this out. The dancing president probably thinks this is another joke as the ANC has this one covered (up).

  • brionyl.french - 2012-12-13 05:30

    call them all and take them all down! Enough of this corruption nonsense!!!

  • kosmonooit - 2012-12-13 05:55

    Typo: It cost R43 billion (plus). This whole mess set the precedent for the corrupt mess we live in today. Oh, and a fine example of what happens when you put polookas into decision-making positions, another precedent.

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-12-13 07:25

    Nada, nothing, zero, fu&kall is the sum total of the result of the enquiry. Dream on guys.

  • davy.botha - 2012-12-13 07:27

    Remember that this commision was setup by Jacob Zuma one of the biggest benefactors of the arms deal. It was setup so that they can could control the parameters of the commision!

      Goboza Mashaba - 2012-12-13 07:49

      How was Zuma the biggest benefactor of the arms deal? Do not just comment for the sake of commenting. There are bigger fish in this deal and Zuma didnt even get a cent from this. Get the facts right before making stupid comments!

      customdesign - 2012-12-13 13:25

      I think if Zuma had to be bailed out by Madiba and couldn't make his bank payments, then there is a good chance he did not benefit much from the Arms deal, that being said, I don't think that all the cards have been shown yet, and the whole Nkandla scandal shows Zuma as someone who at best cares more for his own riches than in the poor of South Africa who are homeless and starving. His crookedness will still be exposed in full though.

  • Goboza Mashaba - 2012-12-13 07:55

    I cant beleive we have so many idiots is Mzansi who dont even bother to get the facts before posting stupid comments. Everything Zuma this Zuma that! I know you are stupid but to this low its dangerous to our country. How was Zuma involved in this whole arms deal brouhaha? I'm sure you dont even have a clue what's arms deal all about. You Flat footed bafoons!

  • allan.rosenberg.752 - 2012-12-13 08:40

    They better get the secrecy bill in place before the enquiry. No wait. Hold on. Charges have been dropped already

  • andrew.mackie.90 - 2012-12-13 09:07

    Will this commission really serve the intended purpose of uncovering the truth and the persons responsible for any form of corruption? Somehow I personally have reservations and believe too much time has elapsed as well as evidence destroyed or deeply hidden away. Further no person involved in deals and summoned will wish to incriminate themselves, least of all the benefactors of such deals. So what do we achieve nothing but a whitewash.

  • angela.salloway - 2012-12-13 09:37

    Mr Crawford Browne, PLEASE keep up the pressure, South Africa needs more people like you to get to the bottom of this.

  • customdesign - 2012-12-13 13:14

    The deal, which was initially estimated to cost R43m... really? More like R29.9bn to R43bn

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