Key Witness in Arms Hearing may not Testify
Richard Young, a key witness in the public
hearings into South Africa's arms deal, says he has not yet received
"signed" ministerial authorisation allowing him to testify in today's
hearings. 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 maintains CCII
was named preferred supplier of the systems which was later awarded to French
His appearance was
postponed last week, after Selby Baqwa, chairman of the presiding panel, ruled
that he required permission from Mosiuoa Lekota, Defence Minister, to testify.
This was required to ensure that his evidence would not compromise state
security, Baqwa said. Last Monday, Lekota ruled that the witness only testify if
he refrained from referring to confidential and classified documents.
Young said: "My
legal representatives have not received any ministerial authorisation in terms
of section 11A of the Armscor Act.
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 relevant department."
Responding to Young's
comments, Nicolette Teichmann, Baqwa's spokesperson, said: "I cannot speak
in any technical terms, but 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."
Teichmann said she was
unaware of "any unsigned document" which was sent to Young on Friday.
"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.
Yesterday, the public
prosecutor's office said the public hearings would resume today, despite
indications by Young that he would only be willing to attend tomorrow.
"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.
With acknowledgment to Sapa and SABC News.