News24

LHR calls for fairness at Seriti inquiry

2014-06-05 17:29

Pretoria - Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) on Thursday called on the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the 1999 arms deal to be fair and consistent in treating witnesses.

Gina Snyman, for the LHR, told the inquiry sitting in Pretoria that Admiral Jonathan Kamerman's statement was not made available until he started testifying at the inquiry last month.

Kamerman was former director of Project Sitron, which acquired four light frigates for the navy in 1999. He retired from the navy in 2006 and joined German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which was part of the consortium that supplied frigates to South Africa.

"This is not equal access to documents, nor does it demonstrate a particularly rigorous attempt to resolve the issue of classified documents," she said.

"We also wish to point out that as we speak the summary for the next witness, former deputy defence minister [at the time of the arms deal] Ronnie Kasrils is still not available on the commission's website and neither has it been available to the parties," Snyman said.

Kasrils was expected to begin testifying on Friday.

One day for 765 pages

The LHR represents Andrew Feinstein, Hennie van Vuuren, and Paul Holden, who have written books about the multi-billion rand arms deal. Feinstein is a former ANC MP.

The LHR previously said it was given a day to consider Kamerman's 765-page evidence, which made preparation and proper cross-examination impossible.

On Thursday, Snyman said it was clear Kamerman was given access to the LHR clients' submissions before he testified.

She said other witnesses were granted access to documents prior to their de-classification by the commission.

"We respectfully submit that the commission's legitimacy depends on our clients and other parties' ability to meaningfully participate. That is not possible under these circumstances.

"We would like to request that the commission demonstrate fairness and consistency in the manner in which it treats witness, particularly our clients," said Snyman.

Failure to do so would hinder the public's right to know and lead to an impression of bias.

'Serious allegations'

Commission chairperson Judge Willie Seriti said Kamerman was not given preferential treatment.

"My view is that your clients [Feinstein, Van Vuuren, and Holden], in the books they wrote and several media releases, have made serious allegations against Admiral Kamerman.

"It was only fair that he was made aware of the allegation made by your clients," Seriti said.

"Your submissions had to be made available to him.

"If your clients do wish to cross-examine Admiral Kamerman I will grant them the opportunity because his evidence deals directly with your clients," Seriti said.

He urged the LHR to submit a list of all documents it needed to prepare for the cross-examination.

"Those documents, if they are relevant to the evidence of Admiral Kamerman, will have to be made available," he told Snyman.

Former defence secretary Pierre Steyn took the stand for cross-examination on Thursday afternoon.

The commission is investigating alleged corruption in the multi-billion rand deal.

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

Comments
  • Fritz Louw - 2014-06-05 18:07

    And don’t forget that Armscor and African Defence Systems (ADS) are also guilty of other fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money in addition to their abhorrent roles they played during the corrupt and scandalous arms deal. These criminal, disgraceful and fundamentally corrupt organisations are both a shame for South Africa – in the past, now and it looks like in the future as well. The reader may also Google: “Fritz Louw” Armscor; “Fritz Louw” African Defence Systems; “Fritz Louw” whistling in the wind; “Fritz Louw” Taljaard release SAS Mendi. Heibrin Venter: “Blow it out of your ear. You post the same cr*p over and over. Did Armscor or ADS fire you at some stage?? Regardless of what they became post '94, Armscor was SA's saviour pre-'94, and was a highly respected, innovative arms manufacturer”. Yes, they did fire me shamelessly because I started to reveal serious irregularities (in fact fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money) of which at the end I was proved to be correct. Amen. On Friday 30 July 1999 I made these massive criminalities committed by both Armscor and ADS known to inter alia Chippy Shaik, the then Chief of Acquisitions of SANDF, in a 2 page statement: Please Google: MyNews24 Letter to Chippy Shaik 20131021. This was of course a grave mistake on my side because I did not know that Shaik was in bed with ADS all along. The following Monday a tragic and colossal cover-up exercise by both ADS and Armscor was started and that lasted for several months. All on record.

  • Dieter Warschkuhl - 2014-06-05 18:13

    Fritz. I'm amazed that your post has been on News 24 for 5 minutes without being removed. It takes guts to do this,which is more than we can say for some our our countries leaders that were implicated and serving top jobs now.

  • Fritz Louw - 2014-06-05 18:16

    And don’t forget that Armscor and African Defence Systems (ADS) are also guilty of other fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money in addition to their abhorrent roles they played during the corrupt and scandalous arms deal. These criminal, disgraceful and fundamentally corrupt organisations are both a shame for South Africa – in the past, now and it looks like in the future as well. The reader may also Google: “Fritz Louw” Armscor; “Fritz Louw” African Defence Systems; “Fritz Louw” whistling in the wind; “Fritz Louw” Taljaard release SAS Mendi. Heibrin Venter: “Blow it out of your ear. You post the same cr*p over and over. Did Armscor or ADS fire you at some stage?? Regardless of what they became post '94, Armscor was SA's saviour pre-'94, and was a highly respected, innovative arms manufacturer”. Yes, they did fire me shamelessly because I started to reveal serious irregularities (in fact fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money) of which at the end I was proved to be correct. Amen. On Friday 30 July 1999 I made these massive criminalities committed by both Armscor and ADS known to inter alia Chippy Shaik, the then Chief of Acquisitions of SANDF, in a 2 page statement: Please Google: MyNews24 Letter to Chippy Shaik 20131021. This was of course a grave mistake on my side because I did not know that Shaik was in bed with ADS all along. The following Monday a tragic and colossal cover-up exercise by both ADS and Armscor was started and that lasted for several months. All on record.

  • Alan Robertson - 2014-06-05 18:22

    This is another zuma whitewash...

  • SoutieTwo - 2014-06-06 07:47

    The end result of this commission, if we follow the various articles, is likely to find no corruption, bribes or misdeeds of any kind. Unless the reporting has been distorted by enemies of the anc regime.

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