Seriti Commission costs could rise to over R100 million


According to the Department of Justice and Correctional Services the Seriti Commission has cost the taxpayer over R83 million to the end of September.

Judge Willie Seriti and his team have again had their mandate extended by President Jacob Zuma and now have until the end of April next year to finish the investigative side of their work. The Seriti Commission has to present a final report to the President not later than six months after its term expires.

These and other factors will eventually push the total cost of the Commission to more than R100 million believes DA shadow defence and military veterans minister, David Maynier. He is also adamant the commission “has no prospect of exposing the truth about corruption in the Arms Deal”.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said in reply to a Parliamentary question posed by Maynier that from the date of its establishment (October 27, 2011) to September 30 this year the single largest item of expenditure for the Commission was the salaries paid to evidence leaders. This amounts to R41 425 000 with the next highest expense being commission employees’ salaries at R22 743 000. The forensic auditor employed by the Commission has earned more than R9 million to date.

Maynier said he could not understand how the Commission agreed to “a crazy money fee structure”.
“Senior evidence leaders earned an average of R5,1 million each, despite the fact that they were probably doing other work and were supported by evidence leaders, who themselves were paid an average of R3,1 million each,” he said adding evidence leaders “appear to be milking the system by charging outrageous fees”.

On the other side of the ledger the Minister pointed out that Seriti and his sole remaining co-commissioner, Judge Hendrick Thekiso Musi, are High Court judges and are “not remunerated by the Commission”.

The Commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in 2001 to investigate “allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP) “. These were approved by Cabinet and Parliament in 1999 and saw the SA Air Force (SAAAF) acquire 26 Gripen jet fighters, 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers, 30 Agusta A109 light utility helicopters and four Super Lynx maritime helicopters. The SA Navy re-acquired its blue water capability with four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 diesel electric Heroine Class submarines.

In two rounds of public hearings since its establishment the Commission has heard submissions from retired and serving officers as well as senior Armscor, Department of Trade and Industry and National Treasury personnel. Also on the stand have been former president Thabo Mbeki and former Cabinet Ministers Trevor Manuel, Alex Erwin and Mosiuoa Lekota and anti-arms deal activists and campaigners including Terry Crawford-Browne, at whose insistence the Commission was established.