Dissolve Seriti Commission - critics

2014-08-28 18:55
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - The Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal must be dissolved, critic and former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein said on Thursday.

"We are distraught that the commission... has indicated that it will be yet another exercise that fails to take the opportunity to fully investigate the arms deal, without fear or favour, once and for all," he told reporters in Pretoria.

"We believe in the rule of law and primacy of the Constitution, but cannot co-operate with an institution that is [so] deeply compromised that its primary outcome will be to cover-up the facts."

Feinstein and fellow arms deal critics author Paul Holden and Hennie Van Vuuren were due to testify in the Seriti Commission of Inquiry but announced their withdrawal from all participation in the commission.

The three said the commission was no longer salvageable.

The commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 arms deal.

Feinstein called on society organisations and the public to join him, Holden, and Van Vuuren in calling for the commission's dissolution, for an independent criminal investigation to be conducted into the deal, and for criminal prosecution.

Feinstein said the arms deal continued to undermine the rule of law and weakened the country's state institutions.

"Former president Thabo Mbeki asked critics to 'show us the evidence'. We have evidence... which we have published repeatedly," he said.

During his testimony at the commission last month Mbeki insisted that for the past 16 years there had been no facts supporting allegations of mismanagement in the arms deal.

"I kept saying if anybody's got evidence, despite all these investigations taking place... where is this evidence? To this day there have been allegations aplenty but for 16 years no one has produced fact," he said at the time.

Feinstein said it was the commission's job to access all evidence available in the country and abroad, to assess its veracity, and to make it available to the public.

The critics have charged that the commission has not done this.

An opportunity missed

Van Vuuren said the decision to withdraw from the commission was not taken lightly and that the three critics believed the commission had missed its opportunity to support the struggle for transparency and accountability.

Holden said a letter informing the commission of their decision to withdraw was hand-delivered on Thursday.

Commission spokesperson William Baloyi could not be immediately reached for comment.

Holden, who is author of the book The Devil in the Detail about the arms deal, said there were four reasons for their decision.

The first was that Seriti had indicated he was not interested in hearing evidence from witnesses about documents they had written themselves.

The second reason for withdrawing was because the commission had failed to provide Holden, Feinstein, and Van Vuuren with access to relevant documents.

The third reason was that the commission had refused to admit key documents.

Holden said the fourth reason was that information from parties who resigned from the commission, and the commission's own public conduct, suggested it did not intend to properly investigate the matter.

Asked if there were any legal implications in withdrawing, Holden said the subpoenas sent to the three had expired.

Feinstein was expected to testify at the commission on 4 August, Holden on 5 August, and Van Vuuren the day after.

"We [are] no longer under subpoena to appear in the commission, [but] not sure if another will be issued at a later date."

Feinstein said that despite the three's decision to withdraw from the commission they would continue to pursue the matter.

"We believe that the best location to fight these battles is in a court of law... We are determined today to continue," he said.

Read more on:    willie seriti  |  andrew feinstein  |  pretoria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.