/ 30 June 2012

‘We took our own decision’

The Arms Procurement Commission has noted the article (“Justice accused of hijacking arms probe”, June 15 to 21), which cast aspersions on the independence of the commission and, by implication, questioned its integrity. We refer to our media statement of June 14 and wish to rebut two allegations made in the article.

First, the allegation that there is a campaign to discredit advocates Vas Soni and Sthembiso Mdladla.

The power to appoint people to assist the commission, including evidence leaders, is the chairperson’s. He made it clear that after the announcement of their intended appointment he had reconsidered and decided not to designate them.

It was his considered view that their involvement would be inappropriate. He personally informed each of them of this decision. How this can be seen as a campaign to discredit anyone is beyond comprehension. The article did not say who could be behind such a campaign.

The second allegation is that the department of justice and constitutional development is attempting, or wants, to run the commission.

The appointment of Pretty Luphondo as commission secretary is used as evidence, but the allegation  is patently false. In our statement, the chairperson put it on record that the commission had asked the department to second her to the commission.

It was believed she was the most suitable candidate for the job, despite her not being a lawyer. We needed a good administrator; we already have enough experienced and competent attorneys.

Finally, at the media conference the commissioners explained fully the various phases of the commission’s work so that we could share with the public the enormity of the task at hand and dispel the perception that the commission is dragging its feet. – William Baloyi, spokesperson for the Arms Procurement Commission