Revelations of a supposedly explosive affidavit lodged with the North Gauteng High Court, apparently in support of a joint court application to have the Seriti Commission’s finding set aside, have not materially changed the application.
Murray Hunter, spokesman for one of the applicants, Right2Know (R2K), told defenceWeb both R2K and Corruption Watch had as of today (Wednesday) not had sight of the papers apparently filed with the Pretoria court by lawyer Ajay Sooklal, who represented Thint/Thales.
“Neither of the applicants has yet had sight of the new affidavit. From what has been reported it appears there is nothing really new but without having our legal teams go over it we cannot be definitive about it.”
Hunter said they had not “not yet been given a court date but are hopeful we will be in court before year end”.
The R2K/Corruption Watch application was submitted to the North Gauteng High Court last October, a month before a similar application was dismissed by the Constitutional Court. That application was made by long-time anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne. He said at the time of the joint application the Constitutional Court had “ducked the political hot potato of the arms deal corruption” and expressed his fear the South African Constitution had “been reduced to a scrap of paper”. He also warned the North Gauteng Court was in “such a mess” the applicants might have to wait two years for an answer.
Weekend reports have it the Sooklal affidavit states President Jacob Zuma allegedly tried to silence a close confidant who allegedly had “intimate knowledge” about the arms deal by asking him not to testify at the Seriti Commission. The affidavit apparently also contains information about Zuma’s attempts to hide his relationship with French company, Thales, a major supplier in the multi-billion arms deal that re-equipped the SA Air Force and SA Navy.
According to the Sunday Times, Zuma told Sooklal: “My brother, I have appointed an arms deal commission to finally put to rest allegations of impropriety, bribery or corruption in the Defence Review Project [sic – presumably the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages]. I request you not to inform the commission that the French were paying me monies over the years up to 2009”.
The SA Air Force was the largest beneficiary of the arms deal adding 26 Gripen fighters, 24 Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainers, 30 Agusta light utility helicopters and four Super Lynx maritime helicopters to its inventory. The SA Navy re-acquired its blue water capability when four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 Heroine Class submarines were delivered.
Judge Willie Seriti handed his final report to Zuma at the end of 2015 following two extensions and a cost topping R137 million. A statement issued by the Presidency after Zuma received the Commission’s final report indicated there was no bribery, corruption or fraud committed during the acquisition, initially estimated to cost just on R30 billion but ending at around the R70 billion mark.
It also indicated there were no findings pointing to wrongdoing and the Commission made no recommendations as regards any further action by law enforcement agencies.