/ 2 February 2015

Arms deal whistle blower misses the commission again

Judge Willie Seriti questioned whether Richard Young “will ever appear before the commission”.
Judge Willie Seriti questioned whether Richard Young “will ever appear before the commission”.

Richard Young, the arms deal bidder who turned whistle blower, did not appear at the arms deal commission in Pretoria after what appears to be another scheduling dispute.

According to a new schedule released on January 23, the commission was due to resume on Monday with Young’s evidence.

Arms deal companies will then give evidence from February 16 to 20 and Colonel Johan du Plooy and Major General Hans Meiring will appear at the end of February and final arguments will be heard in April. This will bring an end to the commission to an end. The final report will then be presented to President Jacob Zuma.

Young was scheduled to appear at the commission in March 2013, but this was rescheduled because of a change in the witness list, and again in July 2014. That appearance did not occur because there were several disagreements between the commission and Young on issues ranging from travel arrangements and summonses to the time required to prepare his voluminous evidence. Young has submitted more than 1 000 documents to the commission, 200 of which relate to his evidence.

Young was to have appeared before the commission on Monday. His evidence has been postponed to March this year – but this appears to have been prearranged with the agreement of the evidence leaders at the commission. This is according to his submission to the commission on Monday.

Young states that on Thursday last week, an evidence leader “advised me that the principle of standing down my evidence to a later date was accepted by the commission”. But a dispute that later arose, about whether Young needed to appear in person on Monday to put this on the record, was not resolved.

Judge Willie Seriti, who chairs the commission, appeared to know nothing about the prearranged postponement. In Young’s submission, he said the evidence leaders had agreed that his witness statement and evidence bundle would not be ready by Monday.

Seriti questioned whether Young “will ever appear before the commission”.

In his submission, Young says he was given only two days’ notice that he needed to appear in person on Monday, despite the prearranged postponement, and there was not enough time to arrange for a lawyer to appear on his behalf. He also says this would have been a huge inconvenience to himself and the commission, with the commission needing to fly Young to Pretoria for one day’s appearance.

But it appears that the commission insisted on Young appearing in person on Monday to put the postponement on record.

According to Young, by Sunday no arrangements had been made for his trip to Pretoria – something he says the commission was responsible for.

The commission’s spokesperson was not immediately available to explain Seriti’s apparent confusion when Young did not appear.