Arms Inquiry Delayed Again?
- A key witness in the public hearings into South Africa's arms deal on Sunday
night said he had not yet received "signed" ministerial authorisation
allowing him to testify in Monday's hearings.
Witness Richard Young -- managing director of
Communications Computer Intelligence Integration (CCII) Systems -- was expected
to testify about alleged irregularities in the awarding of a R40-million tender
for information management systems used in the four corvettes South Africa
bought as part of the arms package.
Young claims his company was named the preferred
supplier of these systems.
His appearance was postponed last week after
Public Protector Selby Baqwa, chairman of the presiding panel, ruled that he
required permission from Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota to testify.
This was required to ensure that his evidence
would not compromise state security, Baqwa said.
Last Monday Lekota ruled that the witness could
only testify if he refrained from referring to confidential and classified
Speaking to Sapa on Sunday night, Young said:
"My legal representatives have not received any ministerial authorisation
in terms of section 11A of the Armscor Act.
"On Friday afternoon I received an unsigned
document stating authorisation in terms of this Act. I do not recall now who it
was sent from, either an official from the defence ministry or the state
attorney's office. I am therefore still awaiting signed authorisation from the
Responding to Young's comments, Baqwa's
spokeswoman Nicolette Teichmann said: "I cannot speak in any technical
terms, but in terms of the clauses of the agreement reached on August 14
following our last session, Young had to provide the defence minister with
statements of his evidence.
'Young has received permission from minister'
"The evidence included what he was going to
testify on and in terms of the defence act he would have to get permission from
the minister to testify also. After receiving this, Young received ministerial
"I am certain that he (Young) received full
Teichmann said she was unaware of "any
unsigned document" which was sent to Young on Friday: "As far as we
are concerned, we expect Young to testify on Monday. Unless he is talking about
some other documents he claims to have received Young has full authorisation to
attend Monday's hearings."
"Young is the only complainant in this
matter who claims to have suffered prejudice and we have gone out of our way to
accommodate him," she said.
Earlier on Sunday, the public prosecutor's office
said the public hearings would resume on Monday morning, despite indications by
Young that he would only be willing to attend on Tuesday,
In an email to Young that was forwarded to Sapa
on Sunday, Baqwa said postponing the hearing would inconvenience all other
parties involved in the matter.
"To postpone the proceedings to Tuesday
would inconvenience all the other parties involved without any justification.
You are hereby advised that the public phase of the investigation will resume on
August 27 with or without Dr Young."
Teichmann said: "Young did indicate to us
last week that he may not appear at the hearings but we reached an agreement
with his (Young's) legal representatives last week. We are therefore expecting
him to testify at the hearings on Monday."
"As far as we are concerned, we have gone
out of our way to accommodate him and cannot postpone the hearings any
further," she said.
Young maintains CCII was named preferred supplier
of the systems which was later awarded to French company Detexis.
It is the sister company of African Defence
Systems, of which arms acquisition head Chippy Shaik's brother, Schabir, is a
shareholder and director.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and News24.