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Arms inquiry: Kasrils statement slender

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Ronnie Kasrils1

Independent Newspapers.

Ronnie Kasrils. Picture: Antoine de Ras.

Pretoria - Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils's statement submitted to the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the 1999 multibillion-rand arms deal was criticised on Tuesday.

“We are going to take you through what the critics say. Your statement just deals with common cause things, except where it highlights when you took trips abroad,” evidence leader Simmy Lebala SC, said.

“The critics are saying why did we go to procure these capabilities when we had the financial and budgetary constraints. Where there is need for you to explain, we will make it a point that you explain.”

In response, Kasrils said he did not want to waste the inquiry's time by repeating issues that had been traversed by previous witnesses.

“I did have a discussion with leaders of evidence about a year ago and indicated the extent to which I am aware and not. I am working with my own learned counsel, in terms of their advice to me,” he said.

“I am not wishing to waste the time of the commission. It was clear that there has been so much witnesses relating to minutes of meetings, acquisition, defence procurement, and so on, and I am advised not to repeat those things.”

Lebala said Kasrils would have to be taken through some of the minutes of meetings.

Kasrils's sworn statement to the inquiry stated that it was vital for the SA National Defence Force to obtain the weaponry.

“It was vital for these forces to have the capability and capacity, supported by appropriate resources and equipment, to support their assignments at home and on the continent,” said Kasrils in the affidavit.

He has previously told the inquiry that because he was only a deputy minister, working under former defence minister Joe Modise at the time of the arms deal, he was not privy to all the details of the transaction.

However, he had a good working relationship with Modise dating back to the liberation struggle.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the multi-billion rand deal.

The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy.

Former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota was at the public hearings on Tuesday. He is scheduled to testify after Kasrils. - Sapa


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