Arms deal commission summons Chippy Shaik

Shamin “Chippy” Shaik and Fana Hlongwane have been subpoenaed to testify during phase two of the arms procurement commission, the inquiry’s spokesperson, William Baloyi, confirmed this week. 

The two are central to the litany of corruption allegations surrounding the arms deal. Neither has faced criminal charges, although Hlongwane was under investigation by British authorities until 2010.

Shaik is brother to Jacob Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of fraud. 

Chippy Shaik’s role came under scrutiny at the commission this week, and he was flagged in an internal compliance report compiled by Ferro staal, which supplied the submarines, as having been “close” to the German arms company. 

Phase two of the commission, which is expected to start at the end of July, deals with the fraud and corruption allegations, making Shaik and Hlongwane’s appearance on the witness list significant. Phase one dealt with the utilisation of the arms purchases and the rationale behind the deal.

Former president Thabo Mbeki is the final witness to testify during phase one. He was due to give evidence this week but the commission rescheduled his testimony following the death of his mother, Epainette, on June 7. A final date for his testimony is yet to be announced.

Shaky credibility
News that Shaik and Hlongwane will be called as witnesses is a boon to the commission’s shaky credibility. Phase two was initially set to hear evidence from whistle blowers and arms deal “critics”. It was unclear whether any of those named in the reports written by the critics would be called to answer for themselves. 

Hlongwane was the adviser to former defence minister Joe Modise, who died in 2001. This week, Modise’s then deputy, Ronnie Kasrils, testified but was unable to account for Modise’s decisions. 

Hlongwane was central to an investigation conducted by the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which came to an end in December 2010 after British Aerospace Systems (BAe) paid fines related to a Tanzanian deal. 

South Africa bought 24 lead-in fighter trainer Hawk jets from BAe Systems in a highly controversial part of the arms deal. 


Leaked documents from the SFO investigation, published in the Mail & Guardian in 2011, revealed that it was investigating Hlongwane’s alleged central role in more than R1-billion in “commissions” paid to South African officials to secure jet contracts.

The Hawk was the more expensive option but Modise reportedly instructed the team evaluating BAe’s bid to adopt a “visionary approach” that would see cost set aside as a qualifier. 

This week, Kasrils was presented with two sets of minutes from a meeting in August 1998, in which it was recommended to the Cabinet that the Hawk should be bought. 

One set, which Kasrils said is the correct version, was drawn up by Chippy Shaik, as the department of defence’s chief of acquisitions. Another set was drawn up by an Armscor general manager, Heinrich de Waal Esterhuyse, and records that the government should investigate the Hawk contract and its costs.

This week, former finance minister Trevor Manuel underwent cross-examination and vigorously defended the cost of the arms deal. 

But Pippa Green, in her biography of Manuel, Choice Not Fate, and former Democratic Alliance MP Raenette Taljaard, in her book Up in Arms, recorded that treasury officials objected to the spending, particularly on the Hawk and Gripen contracts. They repeatedly expressed their “discomfort” and there were talks to reduce the number of Gripen fighter jets to be bought. 

“Chippy went berserk,” one treasury official told Green. “He absolutely went apoplectic.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

Advertising

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday