Pretoria - Those who were involved in the procurement of the multi-million-rand arms deal lied and took the country's leaders for a ride, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille told the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.
“They must have taken leaders for a ride, and our leaders didn't ask any more questions because they were lied to. I think what they did was not only misleading... they lied,” De Lille said.
De Lille was giving evidence at the inquiry into the arms deal, sitting in Pretoria.
She was the initial whistleblower in Parliament regarding the arms deal, and called for an investigation back in 1999.
Evidence leader Simmy Lebala told De Lille that SA National Defence Force (SANDF) generals who testified before the commission indicated that there was a need for arms procurement, and that affordability was a factor.
“SANDF's General Solly Shoke, came here and said we actually needed the arms, and other generals said the issue of affordability and costs were taken into account,” he said.
De Lille said the officials should have indicated the arms could not be afforded. Accountability should have been taken into consideration.
“As government, affordability should come first. We go for a VW instead of a Cadillac... that's accountability for elected officials.
“When officials wanted these toys, did they tell us why we needed them?...were we under a threat from an imminent attack? They never justified the need for such,” De Lille said.
She said before 1994, the defence force was the biggest army on the continent, but it was abused by the apartheid government for its personal use.
“Then came the White Paper on the transformation of the defence force after 1994, the struggle was over. I never heard of a justification that because of threats, we needed arms.”
Lebala said the generals indicated that the arms deal's offsets reached expectation because around 8000 jobs were created.
De Lille said: “We are living in a country where unemployment is very high, youth unemployment remains very high. You cannot run a country on projections... they are incompetent, and they lied.”