Access to Arms Probe Denied
Auditor-General Shauket Fakie has denied private defence contractor Richard Young access to information and documents regarding the arms deal investigation, requested in terms of the Access to Information Act.
In a letter dated January 18, the AG said the information requested had been supplied in confidence, and that the documents contained detailed information relating to the defence and security needs of the country. The disclosure of which could "prejudice the position of the Republic". "The bulk of the information was supplied in strict confidence by various third parties... after their confidence was guaranteed.
"Furthermore, the nature of our work and the need to obtain information from various sources to enable us to carry out our function in the public interest may be jeopardised by our disclosure of information supplied in confidence," he said.
Young heads C2I2, which was originally listed by the SA Navy as the preferred supplier of combat technology for the navy's four new corvettes, which form part of South Africa's multi-billion arms deal.
He lost the corvette contract to the Thomson Group and African Defence Systems (ADS), a shareholder of which was Schabir Shaik - the brother of Defence department arms acquisition chief Shamin "Chippy" Shaik.
The investigation - led by Fakie, National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka and Public Protector Selby Baqwa - found that Chippy Shaik had a conflict of interest in the arms procurement deal. Fakie, in the letter to Young, also said the number of documents requested was too vast. "We do not have the resources or capacity to go through the contents of each and every document and evaluate the information contained therein." This would "substantially and unreasonably" divert resources away from the office's core business, he said. Fakie said the decision to deny the request had been carefully considered, but that Young could make an application to the High Court should he disagree.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Business Day.