Publication: Rapport Issued: Date: 2003-03-16 Reporter: Pieter Malan

Arms Scandal Now Exposed?




Date 2003-03-16


Pieter Malan

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The attempts of a Cape arms supplier to determine exactly how the government's controversial arms contracts were awarded, received a jumpstart this past week when the Auditor-General, after a months-long struggle, agreed to make available documents pertaining to the awarding of the contracts.

Mr Shauket Fakie, the Auditor-General, has on Wednesday, a day before the High Court in Pretoria heard his Appeal against a previous ruling that he must indeed make the documents available, indicated that he would no longer oppose the case.

This means that allegations of large-scale corruption in the awarding of recent multi-billion rands arms contracts will finally be settled.

On the forefront of attempts to expose the corruption in the awarding of the contracts, is the Cape engineer and businessman Dr Richard Young, who's company CI Systems did not succeed in acquiring a R150 million contract to supply the navy with an electronic military control system. Young is of the opinion that although naval officers selected his company's system as the best for South African conditions, the process has been managed on a corrupt basis to ensure that the contract was eventually awarded to the French company Detexis, a sister company of African Defence Systems, a company wherein Mr Chippy Shaik has a share (sic).

Chippy is the brother of Schabir Shaik, the Department of Defence's then Chief of Acquisitions (sic).

Since the South African government's decision that the system supplied by CI Systems was apparently not good enough for the navy's new corvettes, the American navy announced that CI- electronics was to be used in their new aircraft carrier, the George Bush (named after the current president's father who was the youngest American navy pilot during the Second World War).

Young said that he and his legal team are now formulating suggestions on the easiest way to administer the handing over of more than 800 000 pages (of documents)

"We are trying to avoid a situation where the Auditor-General, in an attempt to further frustrate us, waits a full eight weeks before he delivers the whole lot at once or that he requests further extension after eight weeks."

Young said their suggestion entails that the documents be divided into eight categories in order to give Fakie's office more time to go through documents that contain sensitive information.

Young is also prepared to make public most of the documents.

"Our viewpoint right from the start was that this is in the public interest. The public has the right to know where the arms transaction went wrong and who is responsible for this."

Young said negotiations with Fakie's office can lead to an agreement that he will not make public highly confidential information contained in some documents. Young hopes that the documents that he will receive from Fakie's office within the next few weeks will finally place him in a position to sue the state for loss of income which he suffered due to the corrupt awarding of the arms contracts. He has so much information that he will immediately know if they present him with falsified or doctored documents.

With acknowledgements to Pieter Malan and Rapport.