AG's Refusal Cost Company Billions - CEO
Auditor-General Shauket Fakie has been granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein against a Pretoria High Court ruling in which the Auditor-General was declared in contempt of court for not delivering certain documents to businessman Richard Young.
Young, whose company CCII Systems lost out on a contract to supply combat technology to the South African Navy's corvettes, fought an ongoing battle to get hold of the auditor-general's report regarding the R60-billion deal.
Fakie at first refused Young access to the documentation on grounds of confidentiality. But Judge Willie Hartzenberg on November 15, 2002 ordered the auditor-general to allow Young access to certain documents pertaining to the arms deal.
Fakie believed he was entitled - under the Promotion of Access to Information Act - to refuse access to any documents falling under the Act. He was ordered to furnish a list of these documents and the basis for his objection.
In October this year, Young told Judge Annemarie de Vos that he was still waiting to get portions of the report. He said Fakie was in contempt of court for not supplying him with these documents.
The judge at the time said Fakie had two weeks to comply with the order or face a month behind bars for contempt of court. But Fakie on Wednesday successfully applied for leave to appeal against this order.
He claimed that De Vos erred in her finding that he was in breach of Hartzenberg's order (that he had to hand over the documents to Young).
Fakie also said De Vos erred in finding that Hartzenberg's order was clear and unambiguous. He said she should have found that he complied with Hartzenberg's order to the best of his abilities.
With acknowledgements to Zelda Venter and the Pretoria News.
1. The basic gist of this article is correct, but the reference in the headline to "Billions" is only correct in the denomination of Zimbabwe dollars, albeit that our action for damages is denominated in South African Rands (ZAR).
2. But de Vos J also very firmly in her granting of leave to appeal indicated that Shauket Allie Fakie CA(SA) should very seriously consider handing over the documents in accordance with the orders of both herself and Hartzenberg J.
3. de Vos J also found that there was no reasonable prospect of another court coming to a different finding on the interpretation aspect of her judgment.
4. The interesting question is why this contemptuous public servant should want to spend so much taxpayer's money (many hundreds of thousands of ZARs) on protecting 11 or 12 chapters of a four year old investigation report into the Arms Deal.
5. Maybe protecting the contents of these draft versions of the report from public scrutiny is worth more to the government than the Arms Deal itself.
6. Who knows, some enterprising prime contractor may claim the value of the protection as offset?