Thu, 13 Aug 2020

Seriti stands by his arms deal findings - report

22 Aug 2019, 23:40 GMT+10

Retired Judge Willie Seriti, who chaired the arms deal commission of inquiry, says he stands by his report, despite a High Court ruling that rubbished the findings and set them aside this week.

On Wednesday, a full Bench of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that the Seriti commission manifestly failed in its duty to investigate the controversial arms deal, News24 reported.

The judgment found that the commission failed in testing the evidence of key witnesses and refused to take account of important evidence.

However, Seriti told Eyewitness News (EWN) that he stood by his report and would not change a thing.

"Anyone who wants to know more about what I've said, they can go to the report. I can't add anything or subtract anything from the report. My report is there, it's almost 1 000 pages long and it explains exactly what I did, how I did that and why I didn't do certain things," Seriti told EWN.

READ | Arms Deal: Seriti inquiry findings set aside

Seriti found there was no evidence of wrongdoing and concluded that it would serve no purpose to refer allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption for further investigation.

News24 previously reported that Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said it would be unlikely that a new commission would be set up to probe the arms deal, but that the conduct of Seriti may be looked at, following the judgment.

"There could potentially be calls for the Zondo commission to look into the conduct of Seriti. Why did a judge go out of his way to not pursue glaring evidence of corruption?" Newham asked.

READ MORE | Arms deal ruling: Seriti's conduct may now be called into question - analyst

The commission was set up in 2011 at the behest of former president Jacob Zuma to probe allegations of fraud and corruption in the acquisition of sophisticated military equipment to the tune of R30bn.

The contracts the South African government entered into with several European defence companies were finalised in 1999.

News24 previously reported that the arms deal led the government to acquire, among other things, 26 Gripen jet fighters and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer planes for the SA Air Force, as well as frigates and submarines for the SA Navy.

City Press reported that the commission took two and half years to conclude and that it cost around R113m.

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