Pretoria - Lawyers for Human Rights were prevented from cross-examining a witness at the Seriti Commission into the arms deal, they said on Wednesday.
“The LHR was hindered this week from effectively cross-examining Rear Admiral Jonathan Kamermann on his technical knowledge of the purchase of corvettes forming part of arms deal, and allegations of corruption against him,” the lawyers said in a statement.
The LHR represent Andrew Feinstein, Hennie van Vuuren and Paul Holden, who have written books about the multi-billion rand arms deal.
The LHR said it was given one day to consider Kamermann’s 765-page evidence, which made preparation and conducting a proper cross-examination impossible.
Kamermann is currently employed by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which he joined a few months after retiring from the navy in 2006, the lawyers said.
“ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp, which won considerable contracts in the arms deal.”
“The then defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota confirmed in an answer to Parliament that this violated the arms deal contracts, which placed a ban on members of the defence force taking up employment with arms deal contractors for eight years.”
This was made in order to prevent conflicts of interest through post-employment.
The LHR said Kamermann did not have the required permission to do so.
Seriti Commission spokesman William Baloyi said the LHR were afforded time like everyone else to cross-examine Kamermann, but were not ready to do so.
“When they were given time to cross-examine the witness, instead one of the counsels read a prepared document outlining why they were not ready,” he said.
The lawyers did not ask for an adjournment in order to prepare or request that Kamermann be called back to the stand at a later stage, he said.
“It was very clear that they were not going to cross-examine the witness. They were afforded ample time, and all that is on record,” he said.
The inquiry adjourned on Tuesday and was postponed to Monday.
The commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, is tasked with investigating alleged corruption in the multi-billion rand deal.
The government acquired, among other items, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the SA Air Force, and frigates and submarines for the SA Navy.