The R137m price tag for ‘whitewash’ arms deal report

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The commission investigated allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)
The commission investigated allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

The final cost of the Seriti commission of inquiry into the multimillion rand arms deal, which concluded that there was zero evidence of corruption or fraud, was more than R137 million.

The exact amount – R137 264 521 – was revealed by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Mike Masutha in a written parliamentary reply to DA shadow finance minister David Maynier.

The figure is more than previous estimates of R113 million.

The commission was established in 2011 with Judge Willie Seriti as chairperson.

It sat for the last time in June last year.

The bulk of the costs covered the payment of 10 evidence leaders, totalling R82 838 457. The highest paid was Simon Lebala, who was compensated a total of R13 070 100 between 2012 and 2016.

Opposition parties labelled the report a “predictable whitewash” when its findings were released last month. The commission found no evidence of improper influence or bribes. It said the contracts – initially estimated at R29.9 billion – should therefore not be cancelled.

Estimated actual costs of the package – which included corvettes, submarines, light utility helicopters and fighter aircraft – have been as high as R70 billion.

Asked to respond yesterday, Maynier said: “The Arms Procurement Commission amounts to a R137 million cover-up.”

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