Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2009-02-03 Reporter: Michael Hamlyn

New Efforts to Reopen Arms-Deal Inquiry



Mail and Guardian



Reporter Michael Hamlyn

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An attempt to get the arms-deal inquiry reopened is to be made in Wednesday's meeting of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in Parliament.

Eddie Trent of the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday that Scopa has always maintained that any new information brought forward will be considered on its merits, and he believes that the submissions presented in tomorrow's session will provide a compelling new case for the reopening of investigations into the arms deal.

"Scopa has in the past committed to reconsidering an independent investigation into the arms deal when "new evidence [is] brought to light", Trent said.

"In order to set about obtaining and compiling new information, I invited members of the public to make submissions to Scopa on November 12 last year, and we have subsequently received wide-ranging and impressive testimony from many of the individuals most intricately involved in the arms deal," he said.

He added that the new evidence includes various allegations of corruption which have emerged from and during the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office's investigation into the more than 110-million commission paid by BAE Systems, of which more than 75-million is believed to have been transferred to South African beneficiaries through a network of BAE front companies in the British Virgin Islands.

It also includes documentary evidence that the South African National Defence Force's former head of procurement lied to Scopa, and has received $3-million from a successful bidder in the arms deal. "To date, no action at all has been taken against this individual," Trent said.

He also intend to present affidavits recently submitted by prosecutors that reveal new information on the mechanisms used to pay bribes, and which led to raids on the premises of Fana Hlongwane and John Bredenkamp.

There are also unresolved anomalies concerning possible irregularities during the production of the Joint Investigation Report.

Trent admitted to worries that the ANC members of the committee might simply stay away from the meeting and so prevent it from going ahead.

"Delaying tactics have already cost the committee weeks of valuable time," Trent said, "and it is now crucial that all parties commit to considering a matter that is manifestly of great public concern." -- I-Net Bridge

With acknowledgements to Michael Hamlyn and Mail and Guardian.