Judgment Reserved in Arms Deal Application
|Reporter||Sapa, Mariette le Roux|
The Pretoria High Court reserved judgment on Thursday in an application by defence contractor Richard Young for an order compelling the arms deal joint investigation team to furnish him with documents on their probe.
During a day of argument on Thursday, lawyers for Young claimed the team was deliberately withholding information about the arms deal investigation process and report.
The arms deal was mired in allegations of irregularities and kick-backs, but the multi-agency probe found no evidence of "improper or unlawful conduct" by the government and no grounds to suggest its contracting position was flawed.
Young, who was "unhappy" about the investigators' final report tabled in parliament, at first wanted the team to hand over all documents relating to the investigation.
However, after realising that this would comprise over 700000 documents, he said he wanted the draft report and the reduced record.
Young is one of the first people to launch proceedings under the new Access to Information Act.
The respondents were listed as Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and the investigators -- Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, former Public Protector Selby Baqwa, and National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
Young said he wanted the documents to verify whether the probe was done properly, and whether there was government interference in compiling the final report. He was the managing-director of Communications Computer Intelligence Integration Systems (CCII), a Cape Town-based defence information technology company.
He contends there were irregularities in the awarding of a tender for information management systems used in the four Corvette ships bought under South Africa's multi-billion rand arms deal.
CCII was named the preferred supplier of these systems, Young claims.
The tender was, however, awarded to French company Detexis. Detexis is the sister company of African Defence Systems (ADS), of which arms acquisition head Chippy Shaik's brother, Schabir Shaik, was a shareholder and director.
The joint investigation found that Chippy Shaik had a conflict of interest in the arms procurement deal.
Fakie on Thursday accused Young of using the application as part of his strategy in his claim for damages against the Defence Minister and others.
Young's advocate, Owen Rogers, argued that instead of helping his client get information to which he was entitled under the Constitution, the respondents were being deliberately obstructive. This did nothing to promote openness, accountability and good government, he said.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Mariette le Roux.