State entities set to justify arms deal

2013-08-19 14:03
Judge William Seriti. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

Judge William Seriti. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

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Pretoria - Several government entities will make presentations in the initial phase of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal, evidence leader Matshego Ramagaga said on Monday.

"The evidence to be presented during this first phase will be limited to the terms of reference [of the commission] which deals with the rationale, utilisation, and the offsets, including jobs [from the arms deal]," she said in Pretoria.

"The commission intends to lead the evidence of government departments and entities in the first part of the first phase and also the evidence of those witnesses who criticised the armaments acquisition in the second part of the first phase."

Ramagaga said the defence and military veterans department, arms procurement parastatal Armscor, and the National Treasury would make presentations on the rationale behind the armaments acquisition.

The SA Navy, SA Air Force, and Armscor would address the commission on the utilisation or non-utilisation of the equipment.

The trade and industry department would give evidence on the "realisation of job opportunities and the offsets anticipated to flow" from the arms deal.

Second phase

Earlier, another evidence leader Tayob Aboobaker, SC, outlined the commission's processes, saying the second phase would start after January next year.

He said at this stage people could just speculate on what the findings of the commission would be.

"The first phase of the commission deals with the executive justification for the strategic defence procurement package and the second phase is, inter alia, with the attack of critics of this justification.

"The scope of the second phase is potentially much wider."

Some of the witnesses expected to testify during that phase were Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, former ANC public accounts committee (Scopa) member Andrew Feinstein, former Scopa chairperson Gavin Woods, and anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne.

Aboobaker said the commission had a colossal task in scrutinising the SDPP.

"It [the inquiry] is a process where those responsible for the SDPP, those who participated in its finalisation, are called to account for their actions. It is not a process by which they are brought to book, that would be part of a separate process in which the NPA may be called upon to take such action," he said.

"That process could well result in the prosecution of those individuals who the NPA in its wisdom finds that a proper case has been laid out for prosecution. Our mandate is to present all relevant information at our disposal."

The first witness from the defence and military veterans department would start testifying on Tuesday.

Declassifying documents

The commission was postponed on 5 August after it was decided that time was needed to decide how to proceed with declassifying documents relevant to the inquiry.

In a statement the commission said the main reason for the adjournment was the resignation of one of the commissioners, Judge Francis Legodi.

This resulted in the remaining two commissioners, Judge Willie Seriti and Free State Judge President Thekiso Musi, not being properly constituted.

President Jacob Zuma had since decided that the commission would continue with just two commissioners.

Seriti on Monday made it clear that the commission was properly constituted.

Read more on:    willie seriti  |  arms deal

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