Publication: Business Day
Reporter: Wyndham Hartley
Reporter: Ernest Mabuza
Court Orders Lekota to Hand Papers on Arms Deal to Young
has lost a key battle in its efforts to stop further inquiry into the way it conducted itself during the
R53bn arms deal.
The Pretoria High Court on Friday again ordered Defence
Minister Mosiuoa Lekota to hand over documents pertaining to the deal to Cape
Town arms contractor Richard Young. For almost a year the defence department has
stalled on an earlier court order to hand over the
The department mounted a late appeal to try to have the
original order overturned.
Young, whose company C²I² Systems lost the bid
to supply the combat suites for four corvettes, has mounted court actions to try
to demonstrate that his bid was disqualified for reasons
other than those given in the report.
The contract was awarded to
African Defence Systems and French firm Thompson CSF, which both have
connections with convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik.
Young’s victory will
heighten political tensions around the corruption trial of former deputy
president Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is facing corruption charges, with the state
arguing that he and his financial adviser, Shaik, benefited illegally from the
Friday’s ruling that Lekota cannot appeal against the order to hand
over the papers requested in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act
potentially threatens to reopen the row over C²I² being unfairly disqualified.
Young is seeking correspondence and tender documents pertaining to the
award of the multimillion-rand contract.
Young at the weekend welcomed
the ruling and said the documents would help in strengthening his case against
the state for damages of R150m in lost income.
The hearing is set for the
Pretoria High Court next year.
“Government has been trying to protect
information which will show that there were serious irregularities in the
corvette deal. Some of the information will shed light into why African Defence
Systems was awarded the tender and why a certain company had
to pay for in order to secure protection from prosecution,” Young
Pretoria High Court Judge Brian Southwood turned down Lekota’s
appeal against the ruling he made last April.
He also refused to condone
the late application for leave to appeal by Lekota, who took two months to file
Lekota claimed at the time that the Promotion of Access
to Information Act allowed him to refuse to hand over the
Southwood said Young’s evidence was that Lekota’s actions
conveyed to Young that the judgment was accepted and would be complied
Southwood said secretary of defence January Masilela’s explanation
for the delay in making his recommendation to challenge the April ruling at the
end of June did not stand up to scrutiny.
With acknowledgement to Wyndham Hartley,
Ernest Mabuza and Business Day.