The DA will hand over a six-page
memorandum to Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee (Scopa)
chairperson Themba Godi, which "raises some serious questions about the
controversial decision to close the investigation into the multibillion-rand
arms deal", Democratic Alliance MP David Manier said on Sunday.
"The memorandum was drafted by General Hans
Meiring, divisional commissioner responsible for commercial crime in the
Hawks, and was obtained as a result of a request, in terms of the Promotion
of Access to Information Act, for documents relating to the decision to
close the investigation into the arms deal," he said in a statement.
The memorandum recommended that Hawks head Anwa Dramat close the
investigation into British Aerospace (now known as BAE Systems) and the
German Frigate Consortium (GFC) legs of the arms deal.
Manier said the memorandum was "poorly drafted, and contained a number of
contctions and errors of fact".
The Mail & Guardian on June 3 published some of the more questionable
aspects of Meiring's memo, which include:
- It is highly superficial when measured against the gravity of the
decision. The memo does not refer to any specific suspects, witnesses,
dates or evidence.
- Meiring’s grasp of the facts is tenuous. He calls BAE Systems
"British Eurospace", presumably after its former name, British
Aerospace. His claim that "the transactions relating to [the BAE]
investigation refer back to the mid nineteens" [presumably mid-1990s],
omits that the arms contracts were signed in December 1999 only and that
allegedly corrupt payments flowed until at least 2007.
- Meiring complains about the difficulty of getting foreign evidence,
such as financial flows and company documents, while acknowledging that
such information was already in the Hawks's possession after foreign
investigators had shared it informally. Although the evidentiary value
of informally obtained evidence is decreased, the evidence is known and
formal channels remain potentially available.
- Meiring complains about the difficulty of obtaining evidence after
years have passed, while admitting the existence of about 4.7-million
pages of documents, secured in a 2008 raid on BAE, Hlongwane and others.
But this trove he turns into another negative, on the basis that it
would require further effort to "peruse and analyse".
- Meiring argues, contradictorily, that although "cost implications to
conduct an investigation cannot be a consideration … it should not be
ignored". He also complains that "a team of dedicate[d] investigators
and prosecutors would be required" -- although the appointment of such
teams is presumably standard in important, complex cases.
- Meiring claims that "the three suspects in the BAE leg have all
passed away". Joe Modise, defence minister during the period of arms
procurement, and Richard Charter, one of BAE's local agents, have both
died, but the identity of the third suspect is a mystery. Certainly,
Fana Hlongwane -- who was regarded as a suspect because he could have
influenced the deal as Modise's adviser and subsequently received more
than R200-million in payments from BAE and its partners -- is alive and
- Meiring claims there is "no prima facie evidence against any person"
in the BAE matter, even though a South African judge confirmed an
offshore freeze on Hlongwane's funds as the "proceeds of crime".
Although he has denied wrongdoing, Hlongwane has not denied receiving
payments from BAE.
- Meiring dismisses the entire GFC investigation involving Chippy
Shaik -- then head of defence procurement-- in three paragraphs tacked
on to the end of the document, claiming that "the reason mentioned in
the BAE case is also applicable to the German Frigate Consortium case".
This flies in the face of firm evidence.
"It is hard to believe that this memorandum, riddled with contradictions and
factual errors, formed the basis of the decision to close the investigation
into the arms deal," said Manier on Sunday.
"General Anwa Dramat has, for more than six months, resisted the request to
provide an update in 'exhaustive detail' on the status of the investigation
into the arms deal to Scopa.
"Evidently, General Dramat and the Hawks think they are beyond scrutiny and
oversight by Parliament. The memorandum will hopefully provide a sufficient
basis for summoning General Dramat and the Hawks to appear before Scopa."
Manier said the DA would therefore provide a copy of the memorandum to Godi
and call on him to summon Dramat to appear before Scopa to explain the
decision to close the investigation into the arms deal.
"The fact is that General Anwa Dramat and the Hawks should not be allowed to
avoid being held accountable to Parliament." - Sapa and Staff reporter
With acknowledgements to
Sapa and Mail and Guardian.