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Seriti commission to resume on January 20

Sapa

The Seriti commission of inquiry, which is investigating alleged corruption in SA's multibillion-rand arms deal, is set to resume in January.

Chair of the commission, judge Willie Seriti. (Gallo)

The Seriti commission of inquiry will resume on January 20 and run until May 16, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"Although it was anticipated that the first phase would be concluded at the end of the year [2013], this has not happened due to a variety of reasons," William Baloyi said in a statement.

"This phase will therefore be carried over to the new year and in turn this has necessitated that the schedule of witnesses and timetable be revised."

The commission is investigating alleged corruption in South Africa's multibillion-rand arms deal.

From January 20 to February 21, officials from the department of trade and industry were expected to testify.

They included former trade and industry minister Alec Erwin and the department's current director general Lionel October.

From February 24 to March 20, witnesses from Armscor would testify.

Allegations of impropriety
The trade and industry department officials were expected to focus on the offsets comprising the national industrial participation and the defence industrial participation component of the arms deal.

"They will be followed by further witnesses from Amscor who will elaborate further on the procurement process."

It was expected that some of the evidence around the offsets and the process followed leading up to the awarding of some of the tenders could contain allegations of impropriety and wrongdoing.

"The commission has decided that if such evidence does emerge it will hear it notwithstanding the fact that it does not fall within the terms of reference to be considered in the first phase."

This was to avoid having to recall witnesses later.

From late March to early April, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former deputy defence minister Ronnie Kasrils would testify along with others from the department.

From April 9 until the end of the month, national treasury officials would testify.

'People implicated in wrongdoing'
This would include former director general Maria Ramos and her husband, former finance minister and current Minister of Planning Trevor Manuel.

The government's former chief negotiator in the arms deal Jayendra Naidoo would testify from May 5 to 9.

From May 12 to 16, former president Thabo Mbeki was expected to testify.

Baloyi said subpoenas had been issued and would be served on all witnesses appearing at the inquiry.

"We reiterate that the list of witnesses is not exhaustive and that many other witnesses not appearing in the current list are still to be called.

"In particular, the next phase will feature the witnesses who will testify about the allegations of impropriety, fraud and corruption and will include the so-called whistleblowers and people implicated in wrongdoing," he said. – Sapa

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