Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2001-05-16 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

PAC Challenges Heath Exclusion

Publication  News24
Date 2001-05-16
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

Johannesburg - The Pan Africanist Congress' application for a judicial review of President Thabo Mbeki's decision to exclude Judge Willem Heath from the multi-agency probe into the arms deal could be launched next month.

PAC MP and chief whip Patricia de Lille said on Wednesday the papers were currently with senior counsel and she hoped the matter would come before the Cape High Court by the end of June.

She was addressing a meeting with the media and the SA National Editors Forum.

In what De Lille has dubbed a "constitutional crisis" she said the case would also seek to clarify whether there was a dispute between the National Assembly and the Executive on the matter.

"There is open fighting between the executive and parliament daily because of this issue," De Lille said.

'Ganging up'

"There is a ganging up of the executive and Parliament on party political lines to undermine the institutions we have put in place," De Lille said.

Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee in November last year recommended a multi-agency probe into the deal, which was approved by Parliament.

However, the ANC and opposition parties in the committee have since disagreed about whether the resolution specifically included Judge Heath's unit.

In a controversial decision, Mbeki later excluded Heath from the probe, citing among other reasons a Constitutional Court decision that a judge cannot head a special investigating unit.

De Lille repeated she would not participate in the public hearings into the deal starting on May 28 as she had already handed all information to the investigating agencies.

The list of witnesses at the hearings had not been released and De Lille said she had not been asked to testify.

De Lille and party secretary general Thami ka Plaatjie were subpoenaed by the NDPP earlier this year to hand over evidence and had a second meeting on Tuesday to clarify aspects of the information handed over.

"I now expect the NDPP to make the information available to the other two agencies who are part of the investigation. I don't see why I must go through the same side-show with the Public Protector... I don't believe it will add any value to the process or provide justice."

Another Hansiegate?

She also sought clarification on the procedures of the hearings, to be led by Public Protector Selby Baqwa, asking if it would be "another Hansiegate" - in reference to last year's commission of inquiry into cricket match-fixing.

She repeated her vow not to reveal her sources, whom she has said were members of the African National Congress, on the allegations but said she had agreed to approach them for more information if the investigators asked her to.

She said Fritz Louw, a former employee of African Defence Systems, a Mr Van Staden, Richard Young - an unsuccessful bidder in the deal - and Democratic Alliance MPL Themba Sono had provided information but did not mind being named.

"It's not just around myself, there are other people taking up the issue."

Death threats

Referring to recent telephonic death threats De Lille said she was currently examining a log of calls made to her telephone which could pinpoint who had called her.

The PAC's secretary for intelligence, safety and intelligence, Mtutuzeli Mama, said a request for protection for De Lille had been made to the Western Cape division of the National Protection Services, but he had not yet received feedback after a threat analysis was conducted.

However, Senior Superintendent Selby Bokaba of National Commissioner Jackie Selebi's office said the request had been made to the incorrect office and that if it was submitted to the head office of the NPS it would be considered.

Mama questioned this, asking if the request had gone to the wrong office, why had three members of the NPS been involved in the threat analysis.

With acknowledgment to Sapa and News24.