Crawford-Browne next up at Seriti Commission


Not unsurprisingly, Arms Deal Commission watchers have not had their daily dose of evidence for more than two weeks but this is set to change come October 6.

That Monday will see arch-anti-arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne take the stand in front of Judge Willie Seriti in the Tshwane metro council chambers.

The retired Cape Town banker whose persistence that the acquisition of fighter and trainer jets as well as maritime and utility helicopters, frigates and submarines was not according to the book led him as far as the Constitutional Court to ensure the Commission became reality will have his day in court.

This after he called on President Jacob Zuma to disband what is officially known as the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP).

Last September he said he believed the Arms Deal Commission had become “a farce and a gross waste of public money”. He wrote to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela saying, inter alia, then Justice Minister Jeff Radebe (now Minister in the Presidency) had promised an open and transparent process when he announced the Arms Procurement Commission’s terms of reference.

Crawford-Brown will be one of the last witnesses to testify in the second phase of public hearings which, like the first, have been dogged by delays. These have been attributed to, among others, power failures, water leaks, lack of time to prepare for examination and cross-examination and non-availability of documentation.

Still to appear, according to the Commission’s list on its website, is Shamin “Chippy” Shaik, Fana Hlongwane, Johan du Plooy and Hans Meiring. Richard Young who was down as the first witness in phase two of the public hearings also still has to testify.

Three other witnesses – Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren – last month indicated they were withdrawing from “all activities” of the Commission. Spokesman William Baloyi indicated, if needed, the three could be re-subpoenaed to appear.

Seriti has indicated he will ask for another extension to allow the Commission to complete its work.
“I am confident we will complete our work expeditiously and present a thorough report to the President come next year. The Commissioners are fully aware of the heavy responsibility resting on their shoulders in this regard and are determined to do their utmost to carry out their mandate,” he told defenceWeb.