Court to deliver judgment on Seriti Commission findings over arms deal
Pretoria - The North Gauteng High court will on Wednesday give its ruling on a review application brought by Corruption Watch and Right2Know campaign to review and set aside the findings of the Seriti Commission of inquiry into the controversial arms deal.
The two civil society groups argue that the 2016 findings by Judge Willie Seriti misled the public exonerating politicians and public servants in wrongdoing during the arms deal saga.
During hearings held in June, President Cyril Ramaphosa backed the claim by Corruption Watch and Right2Know. The president did not oppose their application.
Ramaphosa made the concession after the civil society organisations led evidence that the commission failed to investigate claims by the German police and Swiss authorities that arms acquisitions head Chippy Shaik was offered $3 million to allocate certain foreign companies a stake in the R60 billion arms deal.
The commission also failed to investigate claims that Shaik, ANC heavyweight Tony Yengeni, Tony Georgiades and Vice-Admiral Simpson Anderson accrued major benefits from the arms deal.
In March 2003, Yengeni was sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding Parliament, after a plea agreement with the state. The charges related to a 47% discount he received on a luxury 4X4 Mercedes Benz in 1998. The former ANC chief whip served only four months in prison before he was released on parole.
The commission was established in 2011 to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package.
Advocate Geoff Budlender, acting for both organisations, argued that Seriti had failed to investigate allegations that politicians and Cabinet members during Thabo Mbeki's presidency received discounted vehicles for their alleged role in the facilitation of the arms deal.
This was the second application to the courts to have the commission’s findings set aside. Long-time anti-arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne was the first to apply to the courts to have Seriti's findings reviewed and set aside, but his application was dismissed.
In 2016, the commission’s report was released by then president, Jacob Zuma. It found that there was no proof of fraud and bribery in the multi-billion-rand arms deal.
African News Agency (ANA)