Publication: SABC News Issued: Date: 2001-01-12 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Catholic Church wants Heath Included in Arms Probe

Publication  SABC News
Date 2001-01-12
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

The Catholic Church today added its voice to calls for the Heath unit to be involved in the investigations into alleged irregularities in the R43 billion arms deal.

Although the unit was named by Parliament as one of four agencies that should conduct the probe, the government has been dragging its heels on issuing the proclamation Judge Willem Heath needs to start work.

Yesterday, Smuts Ngonyama, the ANC spokersperson, accused Heath of blackmailing the government over the issue, and said the ANC would "mobilise" to ensure Heath was excluded. 

Spokesperson for the Catholic Church's Veritas media service, Father Emil Blaser, said today the SA Catholic Bishops Conference had called last November for a probe by the Heath unit.

"It is regrettable that while a recommendation from the Justice Ministry (on the proclamation) is still awaited, ANC spokesperson Mr Smuts Ngonyama has already indicated that his party will mobilise opposition, and has seen fit publicly to speak disparagingly of Judge Heath."

Velaphi Ndlovu, Inkatha Freedom Party member of Parliament's defence committee, said Ngonyama's comments would damage public faith in the investigation and undermine international investor confidence, putting further pressure on the already beleaguered rand. 

"Mr Ngonyama's attack upon the integrity of Judge Heath and the work of his unit is quite astonishing," he said. It calls into question the commitment of the ANC to a rigorous investigation into the very serious allegations of corruption that have been made over this arms deal." - Sapa 

With acknowledgement to Sapa and SABC News.