SCOPA to query “arms deal” probe halt

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Themba Godi, chairman of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) says he will this week ask the police to explain its decision to wind up its probe into allegations of corruption surrounding the 1999 Strategic Defence Package, commonly called the “arms deal”.

The investigation “wasn’t really getting anywhere,” Musa Zondi, a spokesman for the police’s Hawks investigative unit, told Bloomberg financial news service Friday. “It’s closed. The National Prosecuting Authority, on the basis of the evidence we had, couldn’t charge anyone.” The Sowetan and Mail & Guardian (M&G) newspapers reported the decision was made last month by Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation head Lieutenant General Anwar Dramat.

The decision reportedly surprised Godi, who told the Cape Times the investigation had been ordered by Parliament and only Parliament could close it. “To cease the investigation is a dramatic development,” Godi separately told the Sowetan.

In a joint statement yesterday Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille and Democratic Alliance (DA) SCOPA member David Maynier said they believe the decision “is part of the biggest cover-up of corruption in the history of South Africa.” De Lille and Maynier contest the Hawks’ assertion that it is not in the public interest to continue the investigation into the SDP despite allegations that up to R1 billion had been shelled out in “commissions”.
“[Shamin] ‘Chippy’ Shaik is alleged to have received US$3 million in commissions as a result of the arms deal with GFC [the German Frigate Consortium that supplied four frigates]. Moreover, Fana Hlongwane, advisor to former defence minister Joe Modise, is alleged to have received R250 million in commissions as a result of the arms deal with BAE. There are literally hundreds of boxes of documents and millions of computer-generated documents in the possession of the Hawks, and yet they refuse to continue with the investigation into the arms deal.
“Most perplexing is the fact that the Hawks will not ‘follow the money’ and investigate the ‘onward payments’ made by Fana Hlongwane as part of the arms deal with BAE,” the two add. “The fact is that the Hawks know that arms deal corruption goes all the way to the highest levels of government, and by closing the investigation the Hawks have effectively let some very big political fish off the hook.”

De Lille and Maynier says they will urge Godi to call an urgent special hearing into the termination of the SDP investigation and to summon Dramat and National Prosecuting Authority head Advocate Menzi Simelane to explain the decision.



Pic: Four BAE Systems Mk 120 Hawklead-in fighter trainers in South African Air Force colours