A full bench of the North Gauteng High Court heard the Seriti Commission failed in its basic legal obligation of searching for the truth about the multi-billion Rand Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP).
Non-government organisations Corruption Watch (CW) and Right2Know (R2K) brought the application, wanting what has widely been called the “whitewash” by Judge Willie Seriti, overturned.
Media reports have it the NGOs are likely to win because The Presidency did not oppose the application. The Seriti Commission was established by then President Jacob Zuma in 2011. It sat in Pretoria between August 2012 and June 2015, hearing evidence and submissions from 54 people.
Local and international investigations have found evidence of corruption in the Arms Deal, but the Seriti commission said in its final report that these were “wild allegations with no factual basis”. The court heard yesterday that the commission failed to use available evidence, question key witnesses and investigate issues already in the public domain.
Corruption Watch and Right2Know, said the Seriti Inquiry ignored evidence in cases against former President Jacob Zuma and his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was jailed for corruption. Zuma is now facing a trial in court over corruption charges relating to Arms Deal bribes.
New agency ANA reports legal representatives for President Cyril Ramaphosa told the court Ramaphosa would not be opposing the application to review and set aside the findings of the Seriti Commission into the Arms Deal.
The arms deal was finalised in 1999 and saw South Africa’s air force and navy acquire 26 Gripen fighters, 24 Hawk Mk 120 jet trainers, 30 Agusta A109 helicopters, four Meko frigates and three Type 209 submarines as well as four Super Lynx maritime helicopters.
The initial acquisition cost was set at around the R30 billion mark but this grew to more than R70 billion by the time equipment deliveries started.