Arms commission hiding evidence, witness says
The former senior investigator at the arms procurement commission, Mokgale Norman Moabi, whose resignation letter sparked a furore after he claimed that its chairperson, Judge Willie Seriti, had a "second agenda", believes the commission was set up to be a whitewash.
"The sacrificial lambs would be the activists and maybe one or two scapegoats would be slain in the process for the 'maladministration of the offset projects'," said Moabi, who is the former president of the Law Society in the Northern Province and a former acting judge in the North Gauteng High Court.
"Then the commission would have closed shop, without having exposed the real rot within the arms-deal procurements. If Seriti was to resign, the commission could continue under a new chairperson, but the agenda to stifle the truth would go on."
The commission has also come under fire from some witnesses due to testify on what they believe were corrupt practices in the R70-billion arms deal at the public hearings, which were unexpectedly postponed until August by the commission.
The postponement followed allegations by witnesses that the evidence leaders, who were not hired full-time as is the usual practice in commissions of inquiry, had been kept in the dark about evidence available to the commission.
Key witness Richard Young, whose company CCII Systems lost the tender for the navy's new corvettes, rubbished Seriti's claim that no evidence implicating the ANC in corruption in the multibillion-rand arms deal had been brought to light.
Allegations of bribery
"If the commission denies having been given or being in possession of evidence implicating the ANC regarding the arms deal, then it is lying," he told the Mail & Guardian at his Cape Town offices.
Young said he had personally given the commission's legal researcher, Kate Painting, a copy of a document of mutual legal assistance from the German authorities to Switzerland. In this document, which he said required fuller investigation by the commission, it was stated that the delivery of corvettes in the South African arms deal was tainted by allegations of bribery.
"The consortium had, in fact, paid considerable bribes to achieve the conclusion of the agreement, in contravention of Section 2 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Act for the Prevention of International Corruption," the German document stated. "Twenty-two million dollars, payable over the period April 2000 to October 2001, in terms of which at least the predominate part of the aforementioned amount directly or indirectly flowed to South African officials and members of Cabinet after the coming into effect of the Corruption Act on 15/2/1999. The bribe payments were part of the consortium's officially submitted offer."
The alleged bribes were subsequently not disclosed to other parties who became involved in the offer.
Young said that even if the German mutual legal assistance document was not "court quality evidence", it was prima facie evidence for the purpose of an investigation or commission of inquiry.
Seriti declined to respond to questions this week about who his team had gone to see on its two fact-finding missions abroad and what documents they had amassed. However, the M&G has been informed by legal sources that any evidence that Seriti brought back to South Africa was a "closely guarded secret".