Seriti Commission adjourns for the third time this year

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Public hearings by the Seriti Commission resumed on January 20 but yesterday saw the third adjournment this year.

The latest adjournment is due to a Department of Trade and Industry witness scheduled to testify having to leave the country, Commission spokesman William Baloyi said.

While there will be no public hearings until February 17 this does not mean Commission evidence leaders will be idle.
“They will utilise this time for further consultation on the declassification of documents,” Baloyi said.

Since the resumption of public hearings in the fourth week of January the Commission, which is sitting in the Tshwane metro council chambers, has twice had to halt proceedings in the three weeks it has been sitting so far this year. The first was to allow for consultation between evidence leaders and Department of Trade and Industry witnesses and the second was necessitated because the council chamber was required for municipal business.

Witnesses from the department formerly headed by Alec Erwin are currently on the stand with the former minister also scheduled to appear and give evidence on the offset aspects of the multi-billion Rand Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP) that saw prime mission equipment acquired for the SA Air Force and SA Navy.

An as yet unnamed number of Armscor witnesses are due to give evidence between February 24 and March 20 with late March and early April set aside for Department of Defence witnesses including former minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Ronnie Kasrils.

Senior officials from the National Treasury are scheduled to appear before Judge Willie Seriti in the last three weeks of April with the names of former Department of Finance director General, Maria Ramos, and her husband, former finance minister Trevor Manuel, on the list of those who have been subpoenaed.

Government’s former chief negotiator in the arms deal Jayendra Naidoo will have five days on the Commission’s witness stand, from May 5 to 9 and he will be followed by former president Thabo Mbeki, from May 12 to 16. Mbeki was deputy president at the time of the acquisitions and chaired the Cabinet committee which oversaw the acquisition of fighters, lead-in fighter trainers, light utility and maritime helicopters as well as frigates and submarines for the airborne and maritime arms of service of the SA National Defence Force.