Seriti commission granted a further extension

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The Seriti Commission has been granted the two month extension it requested to allow for the completion of public hearings and closing submissions.

Commission spokesman William Baloyi confirmed former senior Hawks officers Major General Hans Meiring and Colonel Johan du Plooy will be on the witness stand from May 11 to 15. May 19 has been set aside to hear evidence from representatives of BAE and Saab, the successful bidders for the lead-in fighter trainer and advanced light fighter aircraft acquired for the SA Air Force as part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP).

To date representatives of ThyssenKrupp and Thales have appeared on the Seriti commission witness stand.

Judge Willie Seriti’s commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the SDPPs. In addition to the jets, the SAAF also received light utility helicopters and specialist maritime rotary-winged aircraft while the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) re-acquired its blue water capability with four Valour Class frigates and three Heroine Class submarines.

The Commission’s appointment was confirmed by then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe in October 2011. Since then the commission has had its mandate extended three times.

The final part of evidence submissions will be conducted between June 22 and 29. This will see oral submissions made by evidence leaders, interested parties, the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, Armscor, the Department of Trade and Industry, and National Treasury.

Baloyi said closing written submissions must be submitted on or before June 10 and the final date for receipt of supplementary written submissions was June 17.

The commission has to submit its report to President Jacob Zuma within six months of completing the evidence side of its work. The new deadline of June 30 means the report should arrive on the presidential desk in the Union Buildings no later than December 31.