By John Matisonn
The probe into the R43-billion arms deal has led to the arrest of Ian Pierce, director of the arms supplier Futuristic Business Solutions, and its accountant on charges under Section 28 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act for allegedly failing to co-operate with the investigation.
Pierce had appeared before the investigators to answer questions under a subpoena dated June 10, but had not brought the original documents as requested - only copies.
He was subpoenaed a second time on July 10 to bring the original documents, and failed to appear, according to Sipho Ngwema, speaking for the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
Pierce was arrested at his Sandton offices shortly after 2pm on Friday. Ngwema said he had been released on warning to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Futuristic Business Solutions, whose chairman is Lieutenant-General Lambert Moloi, has benefited from the arms deal and owns a share in African Defence Systems, whose directors include Shabir Shaikh, brother of the chief of defence procurement in the South African National Defence Force Chippy Shaikh.
American helicopter giant Bell claimed it was dropped from the deal after it failed to enter into a partnership with Futuristic Business Solutions.
Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the arms deal has risen after the disclosure of the cost of the interest payments over 21 years which have, until now, been excluded from the R43 billion figure.
Finance minister Trevor Manuel said interest charges were currently projected at about R23 billion.
Defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the government was not considering dropping the optional second and third phases of the deal, for the last 12 Hawk fighter-trainers and the 19 Gripen fighter jets.
Lekota said that after the New York terror attacks "the need to have some of these capabilities is more glaring than ever".