/ 3 September 2014

Seriti commission to subpoena arms deal critics

The commission
The commission

The Seriti commission of inquiry will issue subpoenas to the three arms deal critics who withdrew from participation, it said on Wednesday. 

“The chairperson indicated yesterday [on Tuesday] that the commission will issue subpoenas to the three witnesses,” spokesperson William Baloyi said. “He also indicated that the commission is aware that two of the witnesses are out of the country but the one present will be served, namely Mr [Hennie] van Vuuren.” 

Former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, author Paul Holden and Van Vuuren announced last week that they were withdrawing from the commission. All three had been expected to testify. They said they could no longer co-operate with an institution that “is [so] deeply compromised that its primary outcome will be to cover up”. 

The commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 arms deal. Asked at their announcement last week if there were any legal implications to withdrawing, Holden said the subpoenas sent to the three had expired. 

All witnesses at the commission had received subpoenas. The three were meant to testify in August: Feinstein on August 4, Holden on August 5 and Van Vuuren the day after. Van Vuuren on Wednesday told the South African Press Association he had not received any communication from the commission. 

“I have not been re-issued and my current subpoena lapsed in early August. “If I am [subpoenaed], I will certainly be seeking legal advice,” he said. Lawyers for Human Rights, representing the three, said on Wednesday it could not comment on Seriti’s decision until the subpoenas had actually been issued. – Sapa