South Africa 7.10.2014 11:32 am

Ferrostaal report debated at Seriti Commission

FILE PICTURE: Judge Willie Seriti at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on the multi-billion rand arms deal, in Pretoria on 17 July 2014 . Picture: Christine Vermooten

FILE PICTURE: Judge Willie Seriti at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on the multi-billion rand arms deal, in Pretoria on 17 July 2014 . Picture: Christine Vermooten

Judge Willie Seriti on Tuesday urged German arms company Ferrostaal to allow its controversial internal report relating to South Africa’s arms deal to be made public.

“Our view is that it might just be in the interest of Ferrostaal and this commission for Ferrostaal to waive privilege to that portion of the report which relates to South Africa,” he said at the public hearings of the inquiry probing South Africa’s 1999 multi-billion-rand arms deal.

“If Ferrostaal keeps on maintaining that the documents are not admissible, it doesn’t help to deal with a perception that explosive information is contained therein.

“Some people want to create an impression that this document contains valuable evidence which the commission cannot ignore. When you look at it, it doesn’t seem so.”

He said the impression that the report contained “explosive information” was misplaced.

Ferrostaal’s lawyers at the inquiry asked to leave the auditorium to seek instructions.

On Monday, arms deal critic Terry Crawford-Browne wanted to refer to the report, but there were objections that the document was not admissible as evidence.

The inquiry was previously criticised for not admitting into evidence a “damning report” that showed Ferrostaal allegedly paid R300 million to influence senior politicians to secure the sale of submarines to South Africa.

The report allegedly raised concerns about Ferrostaal’s relationship with Chippy Shaik, the government’s head of acquisitions during the arms deal negotiations.

The report was not released by Ferrostaal, but was reported on by local and international media.

Arms deal critic Paul Holden attempted to introduce the document at the commission, but Seriti would not allow it because it had been “leaked”.

In August, former evidence leaders at the inquiry, Barry Skinner and Carol Sibiya, said Seriti’s refusing to have the report admitted into evidence “nullifies the very purpose for which the commission was set up”.

The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the arms procurement deal in 1999. 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.

Sapa

 

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