Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2003-09-30 Reporter: Political Correspondent

Young Wins First Arms Deal Case



The Natal Witness

Date 2003-09-30


Political Correspondent

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Losing arms deal bidder Richard Young who, besides suing the government, launched four defamation cases against key players in the deal, has won the first court victory in his personal battle against what he calls South Africa's "absolutely corrupt" arms deal.

Young has been awarded R150 000 in damages after being defamed by attorney Yunis Shaik, one of the brothers in the now famous Durban Shaik family, who are at the heart of the contentious arms procurement package.

Young claimed damages from Shaik for saying, during an interview on e-tv's television programme Third Degree in November 2001, that the arms deal press frenzy was initiated by "Richard Young, who has issued a tissue of lies".

In the interview, Yunis Shaik said Young tendered an untested product that was turned down, and had issued a programme of sleaze and slander in the media.

Justice Hennie Nel also ordered Shaik to pay Young's legal costs, saying Young's system is, in fact, recognised by other countries and is used in the latest U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.

Nel said freedom of expression does not include the right to falsely attack the integrity of a fellow citizen for selfish reasons or for reasons that have nothing to do with public benefit. "Shaik showed no compunction when attacking the integrity of Young and was indifferent to any financial harm his baseless accusations could have caused."

Shaik admitted he exceeded the bounds of fair comment and offended Young.

Young has three other defamation actions on the go. One is against Rear Admiral Johnny Kamerman, Corvette project officer for the SA Navy, who claimed that Young jeopardised the security of the country, a claim that Young dismisses as "absolute horse manure".

The second is against Pierre Moynot, chief executive officer of African Defence Systems, who, according to Young, issued "fundamentally flawed and defamatory" statements to the public protector.

The third is a defamation claim against former Public Protector Selby Baqwa for telling the press that Young was a coward.

In his major action, Young is suing the government, Armscor and ADS for R150 million in damages, after losing the bid to supply the information system for the SA Navy's new German-built Corvettes.

Young is happy with the content of the judgement. "The money is a secondary matter. I am doing this because it is the only option left open to me to get the truth about this arms deal out into the open."

Young told the Witness he is preparing further court actions. He would not elaborate.

With acknowledgements to The Natal Witness.