Second Seriti Commission review application on High Court track

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Following the dismissal of an application to review the Seriti Commission’s findings by the Constitutional Court, two NGOs have indicated a similar application launched by them is still to be heard.

Corruption Watch and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) lodged a joint application to challenge the findings of the Seriti Commission in the North Gauteng High Court.

Earlier this month the Constitutional Court dismissed an application lodged by long-time anti-arms deal activist, Terry Crawford-Browne. The NGOs point out the Constitutional Court did not make any findings on the merits of a review of the Seriti commission but ruled an application to it was not in the public interest.

In a joint statement Corruption Watch and R2K point out an application must be made to the High Court “in the usual manner, which is what we have done”.

The NGOs go on to say: “It is unfortunate certain government spokespeople have suggested this means the court has cleared the Seriti Commission of any questions about its findings.
“This is not true. In fact, the President (Jacob Zuma), his Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (Michael Masutha), Defence (Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) and Trade and Industry (Rob Davies) filed a notice to oppose this legal challenge via the State Attorney’s office on November 16.
“The case brought by Corruption Watch and R2K continues in a different court and with a different approach. The case is crucial to ensuring the truth about the arms deal scandal is not whitewashed through a flawed commission and to ensure future commissions are not compromised by similar procedural and other irregularities.”

This view is reinforced by Paul Holden, author of two books focussing on the multi-billion Rand arms deal and one of four people who decided against giving evidence to the Seriti Commission.

Writing in the Daily Maverick he points out Crawford-Browne’s direct application to the Constitutional Court was not in the interest of justice.
“In other words, an application must be made to the High Court in the usual manner. Crawford-Browne got it wrong by trying to go straight to the highest court in the land.”

Holden goes on to say the Corruption Watch/R2K case is still ongoing. “Unlike the recent judgement by the Constitutional Court, it will directly address the credibility of the Seriti Commission’s findings.”

The acquisition of defence equipment in the late nineties, officially the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP) but better known as the Arms Deal, saw two arms of service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) – the air force and navy – acquire new equipment estimated to cost around R70 billion.

The SA Air Force (SAAF) was the major beneficiary, getting 26 Gripen fighters, 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers, 30 Agusta light utility helicopters and four Super Lynx maritime helicopters. The SA Navy re-acquired it blue water capability with four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 Heroine Class submarines.