Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2001-01-11 Reporter: Marvin Meintjies, Sapa Editor:

State Faces R200m Suit if Maduna Blocks Heath

Publication  The Star
Date 2001-01-11
Reporter Marvin Meintjies, Sapa
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A defence company in Cape Town plans to hold off suing the government until President Thabo Mbeki decides whether to involve Judge Willem Heath, the head of the anti-corruption unit, in a multi-agency probe into the R43-billion arms deal.

Richard Young, the managing director of CCII Systems, turned to several agencies - including the public protector, Selby Baqwa, for relief. Baqwa has advised him to go to court. 

His company was originally identified by the South African Navy as the preferred supplier for the integrated management system for the navy's four new German corvettes, which form part of the controversial deal.

'The minister is anxious to see this matter disposed of as quickly as possible'

Young claimed the contract was awarded to another company with links to former defence officials, and plans to sue for damages of between R100-million and R200-million. But he will go to court only if Heath is excluded from the probe, Young said on Monday.

Mbeki's office on Friday said it was awaiting a recommendation from the justice minister, Penuell Maduna, about whether Heath's unit should take part.

Meanwhile, Maduna is hoping to make his recommendation before the end of the week on whether the Heath unit should participate in the probe.

Maduna's spokesperson, Paul Setsetse, told The Star that the minister had met his department's legal advisers on Monday and that they were busy laying the groundwork for a decision.

Setsetse said: "Just like everyone else, the minister is anxious to see this matter disposed of as quickly possible. However, we have to follow the procedures laid down by law before a decision can be made on a matter like this." 

In another development, Armscor called a media conference for Tuesday to answer allegations of corruption against top officials.

This follows reports that two American businessmen were planning to go to court seeking damages of about R2-billion after a deal to purchase surplus SA Air Force transport aircraft apparently fell through.

Their company, Quantam International, claims it concluded an agreement with Armscor for the purchase of nine surplus C-160 Transall aircraft and millions of dollars worth of spares. However, four days before the money was to be paid, the deal collapsed.

With acknowledgement to Sapa, Marvin Meintjies and the Star.