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De Lille: I was called a useless idiot

Pretoria - Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille was vilified and called names after she blew the whistle on alleged corruption in the multi-billion rand arms deal, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry heard Thursday.

“I was vilified, called names... I was called a useless idiot. I was followed wherever I went and even had a list of car registrations next to me as I was driving to check who's following me,” she told the commission in Pretoria.

Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille File picture: Cindy Waxa. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

She had told Parliament on September 9, 1999, as a Pan Africanist Congress MP, that alleged corruption regarding the arms deal should be investigated.

“From September 1999, my life changed because of what I did. I did this because I love my country and care about its future, and wanted to help the government.”

De Lille said she had received a phone call from MPs who informed her about the allegations.

“It took me two days to decide on whether I should meet with them and be a whistleblower. I asked myself whether I was not being set up.”

De Lille said she agreed to meet the MPs two days after receiving the phone call and decided to tell Parliament.

Then justice minister Penuell Maduna called De Lille and asked her to meet then head of the National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape, Frank Kahn, to go through a dossier of allegations handed to her and find out if there was prima facie evidence in it.

“It was important to note that I did not compile the dossier. It was handed over to me. We went through it and it was discovered that there was prima facie evidence and Maduna was informed about this.”

Former president Thabo Mbeki went on television in the evening a few days later and said there was no prima facie evidence in the allegations, she said.

De Lille was the initial whistleblower regarding the arms deal, and called for Parliament to investigate.

The commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the country's multi-billion rand arms procurement deal in 1999. - Sapa

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