Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2001-03-27 Reporter: Own Correspondent Editor:

Tony, You're on your Own

Publication  Mail & Guardian
Date 2001-03-27
Reporter Own Correspondent
Web Link

SOUTH Africa's justice minister declared on Monday the government would not protect a top ruling party official if he were found guilty of corruption in the country's controversial arms deal. 

The statement followed confirmation on Monday that a luxury car belonging to the chief whip of the African National Congress, Tony Yengeni, was bought by a senior member of a company that benefited from the R47bn arms deal. 

"We won't protect Tony Yengeni ... if indeed you have the necessary evidence against him," Justice Minister Penuell Maduna told reporters in Pretoria. "If you know the corrupt ones who participated in the armaments deal, tell this country in public. It does not matter who it is, even if it is me, I won't molest you because I shall have been arrested," Maduna said. 

The arms deal is currently the subject of an official investigation but the government has so far maintained that allegations of graft were a smear campaign. 

Officials from the three government agencies probing the deal - the Public Protector, the Auditor General and the Director for Public Prosecutions - on Monday held a routine meeting for four hours in Pretoria on progress in their joint investigation. 

"One could assume that the allegations against Mr. Yengeni also featured," representative Lynette van Rooyen said. 

Parliament called for the probe after documents were circulated in the legislature alleging that large-scale corruption in the making of the deal, including bribery. 

DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) confirmed on Monday that Yengeni's Mercedes Benz four-wheel drive, valued at R359 000 rand was bought by a senior DASA staff member and registered in Yengeni's name three days later. 

Yengeni once chaired parliament's defence committee which played a key role in government's controversial decision to buy fighter aircraft, submarines and patrol boats to upgrade the post-apartheid military. 

DASA was eventually incorporated into the multi-national European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), which was awarded a R220m sub-contract to supply naval tracking radar as part of the arms deal. 

The official opposition Democratic Alliance has called on Yengeni to explain his situation or step down from his post. 

The ANC on Monday said it would not suspend Yengeni until the investigation is complete. - AFP 

With acknowledgement to the Daily Mail and Guardian.