Publication: Issued: Pretoria Date: 2002-11-05 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Richard Young Goes to Court over Access to Arms Info


Issued  Pretoria
Date 2002-11-05
Reporter Sapa


Defence contractor Richard Young is to approach the Pretoria High Court on Thursday for an order compelling the arms deal joint investigation team to furnish him with documents related to their probe.

Among other things, he is seeking access to audit reports, correspondence and source documents on which the investigation was based, Young said on Tuesday.

He also wants a copy of the team's draft report.

"I want to independently verify the veracity of the arms deal investigation, whether it was done properly, and see if there was any interference by the government in compiling the final report," Young told Sapa.

He said he lodged a formal application for the information with investigators a year ago, which was refused. His subsequent request for an appeal was denied.

The court application would be brought under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The respondents were listed as Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota as well as the investigators: Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, former Public Protector Selby Baqwa, and National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.

Young 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 former arms acquisition head Chippy Shaik's brother, Schabir, was a shareholder and director.

The joint investigation found that Chippy Shaik had a conflict of interest in the arms procurement deal.

Young said the court proceedings would kick off on Thursday morning with an application by the Open Democracy Advice Centre (Odac) and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) to appear as friends of the court.

"Odac and Idasa wish to support that our application is in the public interest," he said.

Asked what he wanted to do with the information, Young said: "Don't you think every South African would like to know what really happened?"

He said his application was largely in the public interest. However, he would also like to know why parts of the report, especially Chapter 11, was "so flawed".

The chapter, he said, stated the Defence Department was justified in adding R42-million to the price of his company's system, based on risk. It pushed up the price from R38-million excluding VAT to R89-million including VAT, causing CCII to lose the bid, Young claims.

In August, Young served summons on the Department of Defence for damages arising from what he claimed was the wrongful awarding of the tender.

Departmental spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi on Tuesday confirmed the summons had been received.

With acknowledgement to Sapa.