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Arms deal commission postponed

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Willie Seriti1

Independent Newspapers

Judge Willie Seriti during the Arms Procurement Commission in Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - The commission of inquiry into the multi-billion rand arms deal in Pretoria has been postponed, its spokesman said on Sunday.

“It's going to start on Thursday,” said spokesman William Baloyi.

Originally the commission - chaired by Judge Willie Seriti - was scheduled to resume on Monday, with former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils set to testify.

However on Sunday, a statement was issued which detailed changes to the sequence of witnesses and the dates of their appearance.

Former defence secretary Pierre Steyn is now set to appear before the commission on Thursday.

Kasrils is then set to testify on Friday.

Jayendra Naidoo - the government's chief negotiator in the arms deal - is now scheduled to appear on June 9, followed by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota the next day.

Trevor Manuel - who was minister of finance at the time of the 1999 deal - has been set down to testify for two days from June 11.

The date for former president Thabo Mbeki's appearance is still to be confirmed.

Baloyi said that the changes to the schedule were to ensure that witnesses would not have to be called back to the commission after testifying.

The commission adjourned last week Wednesday after Admiral Jonathan Kamerman finished giving testimony.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in September 2011, after the Western Cape High Court was asked in 2009 to appoint an independent judicial inquiry into alleged corruption in the arms deal.

The commission began its hearings in August last year.

The arms deal being probed saw government acquiring, among other items, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the SA Air Force, as well as frigates and submarines for the SA Navy. - Sapa


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