The final witness to take the stand in the Seriti Commission public hearings, Fana Hlongwane, will now only do so on December 11 and 12.
The former advisor to democratic South Africa’s first defence minister, Joe Modise, was originally scheduled to be on the witness stand yesterday. Reports have it he was “not ready” to appear even though his name has been on the witness list on the Commission’s website for several weeks.
The advocate appearing for Hlongwane reportedly told the Commission his client was not properly notified “but we have sorted that out and Hlongwane has indicated he wants to come and give evidence”.
The media was made aware of Hlongwane’s appearance more than a month ago and as late as Sunday night Commission spokesman William Baloyi told the Mail and Guardian he was “confident” Hlongwane would appear and give evidence on Monday as scheduled.
Following Hlongwane’s no-appearance yesterday Baloyi told the national broadcaster: “His evidence was postponed to December 11 and 12 after consultation with his legal team and evidence leaders which commission chairman (Judge Willie Seriti) agreed to. Additionally, his statement was not ready and they also wanted the statement from the Commission”.
Yesterday saw Rear Admiral Alan Green and Department of Trade and Industry chief director Masizakhe Zimela recalled to provide supplementary evidence.
Earlier this month The Presidency announced another extension to the Seriti Commission of Enquiry’s lifespan. It must now complete it work by April 30 next year and it has six month after that to present a report to President Jacob Zuma. The Commission was established by Zuma in 2011 and this is the third time its lifespan has been extended.
The Presidential proclamation tasks it as a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP).
The Arms Deal, as it has become popularly known, saw the SA Air Force acquire 26 Gripen jet fighters, 24 Hawk Mk120 lead-in fighter trainers, 30 Agusta light utility helicopters and four Super Lynx maritime helicopters while the SA Navy regained its blue water capability with four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 Heroine Class submarines.