Lekota Must Give Docs to Young, Court Rules
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota must hand over certain documents about the
multibillion rand arms deal to Richard Young, whose company CCII Systems Ltd was
one of the losing bidders, the Pretoria High Court decided on Friday.
This was the effect of a judgment by Judge Brian Southwood, who turned
down Lekota's application for leave to appeal against a judgment given in April
Southwood at the time ordered that Lekota, within two months,
had to hand over the required documents to Young.
Young, whose company
lost out on a contract to supply combat technology to the South African Navy's
corvettes, applied for access to the documents under the Promotion of Access to
The documents he sought pertained to the sub-systems to
be installed on the corvettes.
Lekota's counsel at the time argued that
government was entitled under the act to withhold certain of the information if
it was confidential. Southwood on Friday also refused Lekota condonation for the
late filing of his application for leave to appeal.
notice of application for leave to appeal was filed more than two months late.
Following the April judgment Lekota did not hand over the documents as ordered.
More than a month later the deputy information officer of the defence department
asked for an extension of two and a half weeks to comply with the order. This
time lapsed without any documents being handed to Young.
The SA National
Defence Force (SANDF) had in the meantime decided to obtain a legal opinion on
the prospects of success in appealing against Southwood's April ruling, and the
implications of that ruling. On June 8 last year a meeting of the Defence Staff
Council decided that the judgment should not be challenged.
included that the Defence Staff thought that Young was
already in possession of most *1, if not all, the documents he wanted to
see. The secretary of defence, January Masilela, however, later recommended that
the minister should seek leave to appeal against the judgment in view of the
effect it was likely to have on the Republic's international and trade relations
and the arms industry in general.
The grounds for leave to appeal
included that Lekota had proved that the requested documents fell under sections
of the act which protected information from being disclosed. Southwood, however,
found that this argument did not hold water and that
the confidentiality sections in the act were not applicable in this case.
He further said Masilela's explanation for late filing of leave to
appeal did not stand up to scrutiny. "It is
significant that the applicant (Lekota) decided, despite advice given by senior
counsel, to appeal for reasons other than the applicant's prospects of success,"
Regarding the merits of the appeal, Southwood said in
his opinion Lekota had no success of succeeding in an appeal. He ordered Lekota
(in his official capacity) to pay the legal costs of the hearing.
With acknowledgement to Sapa.
*1 This is as dishonest as one can
The whole exercise is one of delay, buying time and expending an
opponent's time and resources