Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2005-09-29 Reporter: Sapa

Arms Deal Defamation Case Dropped



The Natal Witness





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A R500 000 defamation claim by businessman Richard Young against South African Public Protector Selby Baqwa was turned down by the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday.

Baqwa issued a statement in August 2001 in which he told the media that Young's behaviour could be seen as "cowardly".

This was after Young and his legal team on August 30, 2001, excused themselves from the public hearings of the joint investigation team into the strategic defence packages, known as the arms deal.

Judge JMC Smit said in his judgment on Wednesday: "It is inexplicable why the defendant [Baqwa] made this ill-considered statement at a most inopportune moment during the proceedings, but that does not make the statement defamatory.

"In my view it is most unfortunate that the Public Protector made uncalled for remarks of the plaintiff during proceedings at a stage when he was not even qualified or justified to make a credibility finding on any of the witnesses, but that does not make the remarks defamatory."

Young and his legal team walked out of the public hearings shortly before Rear Admiral Johnny Kamerman of the navy was due to take the stand. In leaving, Adam Pitman, Young's attorney and Young himself made certain comments to the media.

Young, an electronics engineer, is the managing director of CC11 Systems, also known as C121, who lost out on the arms deal.

He claimed there were irregularities in the awarding of a tender for information management systems used in the four Corvette ships bought under the country's multi-billion rand arms deal.

Young is also involved in a R150 million lawsuit against the government regarding his lost bid.

With acknowledgement to The Natal Witness.