Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2012-11-25 Reporter: Prega Govender

Arms probe names witnesses



Sunday Times

Date 2012-11-25
Reporter Prega Govender
Web Link

A LEADING figure in the multibillion-rand arms deal fiasco, Fana Hlongwane, is among 12 witnesses who have been summoned to testify before the arms procurement commission.

The names of the witnesses were released by the chairman of the commission, Judge Willie Seriti, in Pretoria yesterday.

The hearings are to be held at the council chambers of the Tshwane Metro in Pretoria from March 4 to May 31.

Hlongwane, an adviser to the late defence minister, Joe Modise, was reportedly paid more than R150million for work related to the arms deal.

A chief executive officer of Swedish arms manufacturer Saab, Hakan Bushke, reportedly revealed last year that his firm had, through British Aerospace Systems (BAE), made a R24million payment to a South African “consultant ” for preferential treatment in the country's R48-billion arms deal programme.

But according to documents released by DA MP David Maynier, who is also one of the witnesses who will be testifying before the commission, payments made to Hlongwane could have been as much as R150-million.

Judge Seriti said most of the witnesses being called were people who had played prominent roles in exposing the allegations or who had been campaigning for the government to institute a commission to investigate the allegations.

He then added: “Also included in the list is a person whose name features in most of the allegations as a possible beneficiary of the arms procurement process. He also features as a suspect in some of the investigations conducted in the matter.”

Judge Seriti said he hoped this person would enlighten the commission on the role he played, if any, in the acquisition process.

Others who have been called to provide testimony at the hearings include losing bidder, Dr Richard Young, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, arms-deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne, former MPs Gavin Woods, Andrew Feinstein and Raenette Taljaard, as well as Major-General Hans Meiring and Colonel Johan du Plooy, who are both working for the Hawks.

Judge Seriti said the witnesses were informed via e-mail and letter on Friday that they would have to appear.

He said the only person they were not able to locate was Hlongwane.

“I can’t say he’s trying to evade us, but we have failed to find him.”

Requests for information were made to various government institutions and departments, including the Auditor-General’s office, the National Prosecuting Authority, Parliament and Cabinet, said Seriti.

“Almost all government entities have thus far cooperated with the commission and provided documents and information we requested.

“A team of forensic auditors has also been engaged to probe and compile a report on the vast number of banking accounts and statements at our disposal.”

With acknowledgement to Prega Govender and Sunday Times.

Somehow "gadfly" seems better than "losing bidder".

It's like "loser".

While Fana gets the title "leading figure".

Then leading incarcerant.