Publication: Issued: Date: 2003-03-20 Reporter: Sapa

Opposition Welcomes Yengeni Sentence



Date 2003-03-20



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Opposition parties welcomed the four-year prison term given to former African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni on Wednesday but the ANC itself held back its comment until the outcome of Yengeni's appeal against the sentence.

ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama said the party had noted the sentence and the statement by Yengeni's lawyer that he intended mounting an appeal.

"As the matter is therefore still before the court, the ANC will not make a substantive statement at this point. It will do so once all legal processes have been completed," Ngonyama said.

Pretoria's Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sentenced Yengeni to four years in prison - without the option of a fine - for defrauding Parliament.

Crime does not pay - PAC

Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille, who raised concerns about the Yengeni scandal early on, said the sentence showed that the "crime does not pay".

"This sends a message to other members of Parliament and officials that they are not above the law. We are all subject to the law."

De Lille praised the judiciary for their handling of the case. She thanked the elite Scorpions unit for their investigation, and the media - especially the Sunday Times - for "their investigative journalism".

"It was a combination of the police, the media and the whistle-blowers that resulted in a conviction," she said.

Sentence appropirately severe - DA

The Democratic Alliance said it believed the sentence was "appropriately severe".

DA chief whip Douglas Gibson said: "The public will be wondering whether Mr Yengeni is the only person who will pay for his dishonesty or whether others involved in the arms scandal will end up being punished."

IFP satisified

The Inkatha Freedom Party's chief whip, Koos van de Merwe, said: "The IFP is satisfied that the rule of law has run its course and that the judiciary has upheld the principle that members of parliament must adhere to the very highest standards of integrity in public life.

"We hope that this example will serve as a deterrent to all members of parliament of the consequences of corruption and fraud".

Justice has been done - UDM

The United Democratic Movement said: "We believe justice has been done at last. This serves as a lesson for any would-be greedy politicians not to abuse their positions.

"The sentencing of Mr Yengeni must inspire the Scorpions to arrest other guilty parties in the arms deal. For instance there were thirty other high-ranking people who received discounted vehicles."

Yengeni's conduct was an embarrassment - Azapo

The Azanian People's Organisation said Yengeni's "fraudulent conduct is not only an embarrassment to the ruling party, but also to parliament itself".

"He has certainly tainted the integrity of this highest institution in the land. And he cannot be left off lightly for it," Azapo said.

Sentence should be a warning - ACDP

The African Christian Democratic Party said: "Four years is a long time, and this is a sad day for Yengeni, his family and his party.

"The sentence should serve as a warning for other Members of Parliament to talk circumspectly and uphold high standards. We must be vigilant and guard against being side-tracked by temptation."

Appropriate - NNP

The New National Party also described the sentence as "appropriate".

NNP justice spokesperson, Sheila Camerer, said: "The court was clearly of the view that Yengeni had committed a serious crime and took that into account in the four-year prison sentence without the option of a fine."

Camerer agreed with the magistrate that Yengeni had set a poor example to the public by his behaviour.

She noted that "this is not the end of the story" as Yengeni was to appeal.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and