Constitutional Court dismisses bid to set aside Arms Deal Commission findings

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The Constitutional Court has dismissed an application brought by long-time anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne to set aside the report of the Seriti commission of inquiry.

This has not deterred him. “I have now exhausted local remedies and engaged a highly reputed firm of foreign lawyers, who specialise in international corruption and fraud. We are looking at alternative resolutions to the saga in the United States and other jurisdictions.”

A Constitutional Court judgement dated November 9 reads: “The Constitutional Court has considered this application for direct access. It has concluded that the application should be dismissed as it is not in the interests of justice to grant it”.

Crawford-Browne argued it was in the interests of justice that the Commission’s report be set aside because the “people of South Africa have been the victims of massive fraud”. He also wanted the military equipment acquired for the SA Air Force (SAAF) and SA Navy (SAN) in what has become known as the Arms Deal, but is officially called the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP), returned.

This saw 26 Gripen fighters, 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers, 30 Agusta light utility helicopters and four Super Lynx maritime helicopters added to the SAAF inventory. The SAN re-acquired its blue water capability when four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 Heroine Class submarines were delivered.

Crawford-Browne said the Constitutional Court’s decision to dismiss his application was “highly regrettable”.
“It sends signals to the international community at a time when South Africa faces investment downgrading to junk status, in large part due to the culture of corruption which the arms deal unleashed,” he said adding the “misconduct of the President (presumably Jacob Zuma) compounds it further”.

While Crawford-Browne’s application has been set aside, the North Gauteng High Court has another similar application to decide on. Corruption Watch and the Right2Know (R2K) campaign last month applied to the Pretoria court to set aside the findings of the Seriti Commission.