Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2008-12-05 Reporter:

Arms Deal : We Need Closure



Mail and Guardian



Web Link

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk this week took the unusual step of requesting that President Kgalema Motlanthe form an independent commission of inquiry to probe the arms deal.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates also suggested an investigation into the possibility of cancelling the arms deal and recovering payments already made.

Last week the Scorpions launched a series of simultaneous raids in seven locations in three provinces looking at allegations of fraud and corruption "relating to the fight against the conduct of the arms deal".

The raids flowed from the Scorpions' belated corruption probe of defence multinational BAE Systems -- and the R1-billion in "commissions" the company paid on the deal.

Investigators believe the commissions were partly designed to conceal bribes used to influence decision-makers, including the late defence minister, Joe Modise.

The search warrants show that racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud are suspected.

This week, dramatic new evidence of corruption in the arms deal was disclosed in documents used by the Scorpions to motivate for last week's raids.

While it is to be applauded that De Klerk and Tutu have now called for a commission, it would be unwise to launch one while a criminal investigation is under way. Whether anything will come of it is another matter, with vested interests here, and internationally, putting paid to any meaningful outcome.

What is clear is that this is a stain that will not go away; we need exposure or closure.

With acknowledgements to Mail and Guardian.