AG Withdraws Appeal, Must Hand Over Arms Documents
Auditor General Shauket Fakie looks set to hand over documents relating to South Africa's multi-billion rand arms deal, after withdrawing an appeal against a Pretoria High Court ruling. Fakie's office confirmed on Wednesday the AG had withdrawn the appeal, and that the 40 days allowed by the court to comply with the ruling would come into effect. "Because we are complying, the 40 days now kicks in," an official said.
Fakie was granted leave to appeal by Judge Willie Hartzenberg last month after the court, in November last year, ruled in favour of a request from losing arms deal bidder, Richard Young, for information relating to the investigation into the deal. National Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Protector -- who, with the AG, investigated allegations of irregularities in the deal --and Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota joined the application for leave to appeal. Young's Cape Town-based computer systems company CCII Systems lost out on a contract to supply combat technology for the South African Navy's four new corvettes.
The contract went instead to French company Detexis, a sister company of African Defence Systems (ADS). Schabir Shaik, the brother of the department of defence's former head of acquisitions, Chippy Shaik, was a shareholder in ADS. Young claimed there were irregularities and political interference in the selection process, and applied for documentation used during the investigation into the arms deal, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
Among the documents requested is the draft arms probe report, which preceded the final report tabled in Parliament in November 2001. The final report found no evidence of wrong-doing by government. Young said on Wednesday the further 40 court days to execute the order would imply a period of six months from when the judgement was issued in his favour. "I first made application for access in November 2001. "It took a year to get to court and a further six months to get access. Thus it will take 18 months, as well as a great deal of time and money, to get access."
He was not prepared to wait the full two months for the first piece of documentation, saying the AG should start sending some information immediately. Regarding the AG's original decision to apply for leave to appeal, Young said: "It seems as though it has been an exercise to gain time." It was now important to ensure full compliance with the order, he said.
With acknowledgement to Sapa.
* Fakie was not granted leave to appeal by Judge Willie Hartzenberg.
Fakie withdrew his notice of leave to appeal on the last day of the 40 day period granted to comply with the order.
This time round on 4 November 2004, Fakie issued his notice of leave to appeal against the judgment given by de Vos J in the Pretoria High Court on 14 October 2004.