De Lille ready for Arms Deal Commission testimony


She is now first citizen of South Africa’s Mother city but that doesn’t mean feisty former MP Patricia de Lille has forgotten the events of 1999 that saw her hand the “De Lille Dossier” to Parliament in a lone effort to have the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP) investigated for corruption.

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then but the former Independent Democrat who now sports DA colours was today, ahead of her appearance before Judge Willie Seriti’s Arms Procurement Commission tomorrow, adamant her De Lille Dossier deserves closer attention from the Commission.

She is widely acknowledged as the original whistle-blower on allegations of corruption and other improprieties around the acquisition of new front-line equipment for the SA Air Force and SA Navy.

A Cabinet committee chaired by former president Thabo Mbeki, who was deputy president at the time, approved the purchase of Valour Class frigates, Type 209 diesel-electric submarines, Gripen fighter jets, Hawk lead-in fighter trainers, light utility helicopters and maritime helicopters.
“Allegations in what has come to be known as the ‘De Lille Dossier’ deserve to be investigated by the Seriti Commission, including those levelled at President Jacob Zuma,” she said from Cape Town.

Asked whether the Seriti Commission was serving a worthwhile purpose she said she would prefer not to comment at present but “will judge when we see the findings and recommendations”.

De Lille is also adamant all South Africans have a right to see the final report of the Commission – “It must be made public because taxpayers have and are paying for it”.

On what she would like to see in the Seriti Commission’s final report to the President De Lille is again, outspoken.
“If prima facie evidence of corruption is found, people need to be charged, prosecuted and sent to jail.”

She does not share the optimism of some other arms deal critics who maintain the equipment should be returned and South Africa reimbursed.
“The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is the only organisation in law with the power to cancel contracts and sadly, it has been excluded from the Seriti Commission,” de Lille said.

She will be the first witness in phase two of public hearings after Dr Richard Young earlier this week did not make it to Pretoria, citing medical reasons. He has apparently requested a date in October to appear and Seriti was reported as saying the possibility would have to be investigated.

Other scheduled to appear in this round of hearings are David Maynier, Dr Gavin Woods, Raenette Taljaard, Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden, Hennie van Vuuren, Terry Crawford-Browne, Shamin “Chippy” Shaik and Fana Hlongwane.