“Privilege” cuts wind from Hawks “arms deal” probe


The police’s Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation, better known as the “Hawks”, says legal privilege prevents it from conducting even a preliminary investigation into “questionable and improper payments” made by Ferrostaal, which was part of the consortium that supplied three submarines to South Africa as part of the 1999 Strategic Defence Package (SDP).

An internal-compliance investigation of Ferrostaal by international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton (D&P) allegedly found the German firm made R300 million in “questionable” payments to secure the submarine contract. The Süddeutsche Zeitung earlier this month obtained what it said as a copy of the report and published extracts.

This caused the chairman of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, and David Maynier, the Democratic Alliance’s defence shadow minister, to write to Hawks chief Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat to probe the allegations.

Maynier, in a statement today says Dramat yesterday responded. In his answer the police boss noted “that the report that you have forwarded to this office is clearly marked ‘Privileged & Confidential’ and … contains attorney-client communications. There is no indication given that the privilege has been waived. As such the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation can neither have insight into, nor utilize the report for any purpose whatsoever”.

Maynier says his party is disappointed by the response. “There is no indication that the Hawks intend to approach Ferrostaal through official channels to obtain a copy of the final report of the compliance investigation… The fact is that this amounts to a form of investigative lethargy and a cop out by the Hawks.
“I have, therefore, this morning written to … Dramat to find out why it is not possible to officially approach Ferrostaal to make available a copy of the final report, together with the documents and accounting data retrieved from Ferrostaal South Africa (Pty) Ltd. A spokesperson for Ferrostaal is on record in the media as stating that ‘if we were approached by South African public prosecutors of course we would assist them and cooperate’.”