Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2006-02-11 Reporter: Thokozani Mtshali Reporter:

Lekota has to Release Arms Deal Papers



Cape Argus




Thokozani Mtshali

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Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota will have to hand over documents about the arms deal to Richard Young, one of the losing bidders in the massive deal.

The Pretoria High Court refused Lekota leave to appeal against an earlier judgment that he should make the documents available to Young.

Judge Brian Southwood yesterday dismissed Lekota's application for leave to appeal, mainly on the grounds *1 that it was filed late and that it sought to raise issues that were not presented to court before the original court order was granted.

Young been (sic) engaged in a legal fight with the ministry and department of defence after his company, CCII Systems, lost its bid for a contract to supply combat suites for the South African Navy's corvettes.

But last year, using the provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, he asked the court to force the ministry of defence to provide him with records regarding the sub-systems to be installed on the corvettes.

In April last year Judge Southwood ordered the ministry of defence to hand over the documents and records of the arms deal within two months.

Lekota had argued that it was permissible for the government to refuse to give certain information if this related to security matters.

But the court found that the ministry of defence had failed to prove that the confidentiality clauses were relevant in this matter *2.

In his judgment, Judge Southwood said the court dismissed the application also on the basis that the ministry of defence had misled Young to believe that it would abide by the court order when it knew it wanted to challenge it *3.

With acknowledgements to Thokozani Mtshali and Cape Argus.

*1  Actually the primary ground for the refusal was that the right of leave to appeal had perempted, i.e. been defeated, once the DoD had objectively (by their conduct) indicated that they would not appeal because such appeal had no prospect of success.

*2  Or that the material sought actually contained matter worthy of protection.

*3 Which amounts to a flagrant abuse of a citizen's statutory rights.