The Arms Procurement Commission, with its credibility already under fire following a number of high profile resignations, has been hit by another broadside.
Opposition Freedom Front Plus (FF+) party defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald has divulged that one of the evidence leaders – Advocate S Leballa – is “essentially guilty of committing perjury”.
“In a court case in the North Gauteng High Court (Tasima Pty Ltd. vs Department of Transport, Case Number A862/12) in which Leballa acted on behalf of a respondent, it was found that the respondent’s lawyer had committed perjury in terms of a statement and the court recommended that the lawyer should be investigated by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. In the court case Leballa acknowledged he had been responsible for the drafting and content of the affidavit. Essentially, Adv. Leballa had committed perjury,” Groenewald said in a statement released in Cape Town.
“It is clear Leballa does not hesitate to draft false statements for witnesses. Leballa is not suited to act as a witness leader for the Commission and should immediately be removed.”
Groenewald added the success of Judge Willie Seriti’s Commission was largely dependent on the testimony to be given and the public “wants credible witnesses which cannot be said of Leballa”.
Meanwhile, an application by long-time anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne to have the Commission closed when public hearings resumed on Tuesday was rejected. Crawford-Browne alleged the arms deal was unconstitutional, illegal and fraudulent.
He said that two former members of the commission had reported that there was a ‘second agenda’ to ‘silence him’, Business Day reports. He said this may have been why Judge Francis Legodi resigned earlier this month and other members of the commission have resigned.
In Crawford-Browne’s vocal criticism of the arms deal, he pointed out that much of the equipment procured was inoperable, with half the Saab Gripen fighters grounded and some of the frigates and submarines unserviceable.
The first week of public hearings continues with senior Navy and SA Air Force personnel explaining the rationale behind the acquisition of corvettes (re-classed as frigates), submarines, helicopters and jet fighters and trainers.
Yet to be named Armscor personnel will also testify before the commission on this aspect of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP). This evidence is scheduled for completion by September 27 with former Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former Deputy Defence Minister Ronnie Kasrils next on the witness list from September 30 to October 4.