Judges Musi and Seriti preside over the Arms Procurement Commission at the Sammy Marks Conference Centre in Pretoria. File picture: Chris Collingridge

Johannesburg - A former senior investigator and legal practitioner at the arms deal commission has taken the commission to the bargaining council to challenge the non-renewal of his contract.

Advocate Thabo Malatji is also claiming unpaid salaries of more than R150 000 after he was not paid for November and December last year.

Malatji’s contract, along with six other staff members, was not renewed when the commission’s initial mandate was extended by President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate allegations of corruption related to the controversial R70 billion arms deal.

The non-renewal of his contract added to perceptions that legal personnel who were not loyal to commission chairman Willie Seriti were being axed from the commission.

This came after the resignation of senior investigators Norman Moabi and Kate Painting, who alleged there was a “second agenda” at the commission.

Malatji was one of the first legal counsel to be seconded by former commissioner Judge Francis Legodi, who resigned from the commission a few days before it was scheduled to begin public hearings.

Speaking to The Sunday Independent on Saturday, Malatji said he was shocked that the commission claimed it was trying to reduce costs when the justice department had increased the budget for the commission, but said his main concern was that his work was not finished.

”What I’m challenging is the non-payment of the salary for November and December. When we were informed that our contracts would not be renewed, we were told we could leave early and that our salaries would be paid but this was not done.

“But I’m also challenging the non-renewal of the contract. There was an expectation that my contract would be renewed when the term of the commission was extended. My understanding was that I was contracted for the term of the commission,” he said.

He said he intended pursuing the matter to the Labour Court if he did not succeed at the bargaining council, where his matter is scheduled to be heard next month.

Sunday Independent