Publication: SABC News Issued: Date: 2001-08-26 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Uncertainty on whether Young will Testify Surrounds Arms Deal Hearing

Publication  SABC News
Date 2001-08-26
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

Public hearings into government's multi-billion rand arms deal are scheduled to start again in Pretoria tomorrow. This despite apparent uncertainty about whether or not a key complainant of the arms deal Richard Young will testify. 

Young is expected to be the last witness, should he testify. But that is uncertain. The hearings were postponed for him to get clearance from Mosioua Lekota, the Minister of Defence, to testify. Young says the clearance eventually given was conditional and has asked for unqualified permission to speak before he takes the stand. 

He says part of his testimony rebukes earlier statements by several cabinet ministers and key players in the arms procurement that government was not involved in the awarding of sub-contracts that formed part of the deal. "It's very easy for us to prove that the South African government and specifically the department of defence selected the sub-systems and basically instructed the German Frigate Consortium and African Defence Systems which sub-systems to use."

Young's company, C-squared I-squared, was selected as the preferred bidder for a R40-million sub-contract to supply the information management system for the navy's four new corvettes. But that contract was subsequently then given to French company Detexis, a sister company of African Defence Systems of which Schabir Shaik is a director and shareholder. Shaik's brother Chippy - in turn - is the chief of acquisitions of the Department of Defence. Young says the Detexis System does not measure up. "The bottom line is that it doesn't meet the South African navy's specified requirements." 

Should Young not testify, a summary of his testimony given to Lekota, could be read at the hearings. If this is done, those named in his testimony could be called to reply. If not, the hearings could come to an abrupt end. The final report on the investigations into the deal is expected to be handed to Parliament by the end of September. 

With acknowledgment to Sapa and SABC News.