National

Arms deal commission postponed

Sapa

The commission of inquiry into the multibillion-rand arms deal in Pretoria has been postponed once again.

Originally the commission – chaired by Judge Willie Seriti – was scheduled to resume on Monday with former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils set to testify. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

“It’s going to start on Thursday,” said spokesperson William Baloyi.

Originally the commission – chaired by Judge Willie Seriti – was scheduled to resume on Monday with former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils set to testify. Kasrils was deputy defence minister at the time of the controversial deal.

However on Sunday, a statement was issued which detailed changes to the sequence of witnesses and the dates of their appearance.

Former defence secretary Pierre Steyn is now set to appear before the commission on Thursday.

Kasrils will then testify on Friday.

Jayendra Naidoo – the government’s chief negotiator in the Arms Deal – is now scheduled to appear on June 9, followed by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota the next day.

Trevor Manuel – who was minister of finance at the time of the 1999 deal – has been set down to testify for two days from June 11.

The date for former president Thabo Mbeki’s appearance has yet to be confirmed.

Baloyi said changes to the schedule were to ensure witnesses would not have to be called back to the commission after testifying.

The commission adjourned last week Wednesday after Admiral Jonathan Kamerman finished giving testimony.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in September 2011 after the Western Cape High Court was asked in 2009 to appoint an independent judicial inquiry into alleged corruption in the Arms Deal.

The commission began its hearings in August last year.

The Arms Deal being probed saw government acquiring, among other items, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the South African Air Force, as well as frigates and submarines for the South African Navy. – Sapa

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