Another change to Seriti witness schedule


In yet another change to its public hearings schedule, the Seriti Commission has now indicated Richard Young will be giving evidence from March 4 to 10.

Young, whose company was an unsuccessful bidder for the combat suites to be installed on the Navy’s Valour Class frigates when they were acquired as part of the 1998 Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP), was set down to give evidence this week after missing his first allocated “slot” in March last year. This was changed to July last year but the man who has given the Commission thousands of pages of evidence again did not appear for reasons said to include travel arrangements and summonses.

He was due to start giving evidence in the Tshwane metro council chamber on Monday this week but, according to the Mail & Guardian, his evidence has been postponed to March 4 to 10. According to a Young submission to the Commission on Monday, the change had been pre-arranged with the agreement of Commission evidence leaders.

A revised evidence schedule released on Monday by Commission spokesman William Baloyi shows Young as giving evidence from March 4 to 10. He will be followed by representatives from the defence industry companies that won bids to supply front-line equipment to the air force and navy.

Five days, from March 16 to 20, have been set aside for BAE/Saab, Ferrostaal, Thyssenkrupp, Thales and Agusta with former Hawks investigator, Colonel Johan du Plooy, and Major General Hans Meiring, former head of the Hawks Commercial Crimes Unit, down as the final witnesses. They finish giving evidence on March 25 after which the commission will go behind closed doors in preparation for closing arguments between April 13 and 24.

These are expected to cover aspects such as the rationale and utilisation of equipment acquired, job opportunities created by the SDPP as well as possible corruption and wrongdoing and possible cancellation of the contracts. It is not clear, at this stage, whether this stage of the Commission’s work will be open to the public.