Court date set for review of Arms Deal commission's findings

2019-06-07 15:44
(Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

(Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Civil society organisations Corruption Watch and Right2know will, on June 11 and 12, head to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to review and set aside the findings of the Seriti commission.

The commission, or Arms Procurement commission, was set up in 2011 by the then-minister of justice and constitutional development, Jeff Radebe, at the behest of former president Jacob Zuma to look into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages more commonly known as the Arms Deal.

The arms deal saw the government acquiring, among other things, 26 Gripen jet fighters and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer planes for the SA Air Force, as well as frigates and submarines for the SA Navy.

News24 previously reported on the six key findings of the arms deal commission.

Corruption Watch and Right2Know said in a statement that the court action came "after several years of dogged scrutiny of the flawed processes and ongoing efforts to hold those implicated in the alleged corruption in the arms deal accountable".

It added that the organisations' application argued that "the Seriti commission failed miserably to conduct the most routine of investigations, arriving at the implausible conclusion that there was no evidence of corruption in the arms deal".

City Press previously reported that the key witnesses in the commission, Andrew Feinstein and Paul Holden, had disagreed with the report’s findings, claiming that "the commission deliberately ignored crucial documents and made only token efforts to get their hands on potentially damning evidence in the hands of foreign investigators".

"It is not as though the evidence of corruption in the deal is either obtuse or difficult to access; they seem to have gone to great lengths to avoid accessing it," said Feinstein who is a former ANC MP.

Included in this are three shipping containers, filled with 460 boxes and 4.7 million pages, that have been languishing in the parking lot of the Hawks' Silverton offices.

City Press revealed the existence of the shipping containers, which is full of potential evidence, in 2013. But at the time, the Seriti commission said that it would be too "time consuming and costly" to scan the documents.

The Presidency, in April this year, made it clear that it would not oppose the application, and would be willing to make submissions in court.

Corruption Watch and Right2Know argued that the case would highlight how the commission "failed to comply with its mandate" by misleading the public, ignoring evidence of corruption, failing to access information from abroad, failing to investigate serious allegations of corruption and failing to investigate new information was that was put before it.

The arms deal has most recently been in the news as Zuma is currently fending off corruption charges related to it. His legal team has applied for a permanent stay of prosecution in his corruption trial in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

Together with his co-accused, French arms dealer Thales, Zuma is attempting to stave off attempts to face trial for 783 questionable payments he allegedly received improperly in exchange for saying he would protect the company from possible future criminal prosecution.

Read more on:    corruption watch  |  r2k  |  courts  |  arms deal
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