Whistle-blower fails to appear at arms deal commission

Richard Young, a losing arms deal bidder and critic, was unable to appear at the arms procurement commission in Pretoria on Monday because he is recovering from an eye operation.

But the problems with Young’s testimony appear to go even further. No one at the commission, Young or the evidence leaders, were ready to lead his testimony on Monday.

Young’s company, CCII Systems, bid to provide the combat suites for the four corvette vessels which were purchased as part of the arms deal, in 1999. Young was then part of the legal challenge, headed by Terry Crawford-Browne, which sought to compel government to appoint a commission of inquiry into the arms deal.

Advocate Barry Skinner read two letters into the record, previously submitted to the commission, to explain why Young could not attend.

A second reason presented was the voluminous evidence Young intended to present to the commission, which he said would take at least three weeks to read into the record, excluding cross-examination. He said the three days set down for his testimony were too few.

Young’s lawyers suggested that three weeks be set down in October for the submission of this evidence, adding that Young wanted to testify at the commission. He is also under subpoena to do so.

Flights were confirmed
A visibly irritable Judge Willie Seriti said the commission had gone out of its way to accommodate Young. Advocate Fanyana Mdumbe, the commission’s head of legal services, said the commission had constantly maintained contact with Young. Seriti did not make a ruling on this issue on Monday, but said it would be sorted out at a later date.

The Mail & Guardian understands that Young’s flights and hotel accommodation were confirmed on Sunday, adding to the confusion about why he did not attend the commission in person.

It is also understood that Young’s witness statement, which is apparently over three years old, was still being redrafted on Sunday by the evidence leaders.

Young’s lawyers also said he was still waiting for a document from the department of defence, which he had requested a year ago. Advocate Jennifer Cane, for the DoD, said Young needed to be specific about which document this was.

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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. 

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