Publication: SABC Issued: Date: 2001-08-27 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Key Witness in Arms Hearing may not Testify

Publication  SABC
Date 2001-08-27
Reporter Sapa
Web Link


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 company Detexis.  

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.  

"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 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.