Still No Joy for Arms Deal Loser
The Natal Witness
The Cape Town businessman who last month won a court case to gain access to thousands of documents relating to the state's investigations into South Africa's multibillion rand arms deal has still not received the documents.
Richard Young, the managing director of C2I2 Systems, has now waited more than three years for access to information which he believes could prove the arms procurement deal corrupt.
He is suing the government for about R150 million in damages relating to his losing a bid to supply information management systems for the navy's new corvettes.
Four weeks ago, the Pretoria High Court declared auditor-general Shauket Fakie in contempt of court for not complying with a previous order instructing him to give Young documents relating to the state probe into the arms deal. Fakie was sentenced to 30 days in jail and the sentence was suspended on condition that Fakie hands over to Young all the documents.
To date, he has not done so. He has a week in which to do so, to avoid being jailed. A frustrated Young, who is listed as one of the witnesses in the Schabir Shaik fraud and corruption trial, told the Witness that, despite having sent two letters with "a comprehensive list of outstanding information", he has still not received the information.
Young said he has been told auditor general Shauket Fakie is appealing the judgment. "If that is the case we will oppose the application," he said.
He added: "It is amazing. The auditor-general is a constitutional public watchdog, but it has taken me more than three years to try and get this information."
Last year, following a previous court order, Fakie gave Young some documents, including portions of draft versions of his office's controversial 2001 report on the strategic defence packages, but Young has requested tens of thousands more documents.
Using the Promotion of Access to Information Act, Young demanded a number of confidential documents from Fakie, the Department of Defence, the public protector and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Young lost a R150 million bid to supply the information management system for the South African Navy's new corvettes, after being led to believe, for years, that the contract was his. The massive losses he suffered led him to take the matter to court.
He applied to court to gain access to documents relating to the arms deal and to the work done by the joint investigating team appointed by Parliament, consisting of the auditor-general, the public protector and the NPA to probe the arms procurement process.
In 2002, the Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of Young being provided with the documents but A-G Fakie and other members of the joint investigating team sought leave to appeal against the judgment.
Young believes his bid failed because of serious irregularities in the procurement process - and is suing the government, Armscor and the French-owned company that won the contract, African Defence Systems, for R150 million in damages.
In particular, Young wants to see the initial drafts of the joint team's report which were submitted to the Defence Department and to a cabinet committee, before being sent back for revision, effectively, he believes, sweeping vital information under the carpet.
With acknowledgement to Sue Segar and The Natal Witness.