Seriti Commission seeking another extension

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The Seriti Commission looks set to go on even longer than scheduled and has requested more time to accommodate the legal teams representing different witnesses to prepare closing arguments.

The public hearings of the Commission, set up by President Jacob Zuma to investigate allegations of bribery, corruption and other impropriety arising from the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPPs), were originally set to end on Friday, April 24.
“The Commission has applied for an extension of two months and we are still waiting for a response,” spokesman William Baloyi said.
“The application was necessitated by requests from different legal teams indicating they would need at least three weeks to prepare closing arguments. In order to accommodate the request the commission realised it would stretch beyond the April deadline for public hearings.
“As soon as a response has been received (from the Department of Justice and Correctional Services), the Commission’s programme will be adjusted and communicated,” he said, adding there were witnesses “still expected” to testify.

These include representatives from Saab and BAE Systems as well as former senior Hawks officers, Major General Hans Meiring and Colonel Johan du Plooy.

Establishment of the Commission was announced by Jeff Radebe, the then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, in October 2011. It followed representations that went as far as the Constitutional Court and initiated by Terry Crawford-Browne, long-time anti-arms deal campaigner. The commission was originally given a year to complete its public hearings and then submit a report to President Jacob Zuma no less than six months later.

It has now had its mandate extended twice.

Up to September last year the Commission had cost the taxpayer more than R83 million, a reply to a Parliamentary question revealed, with indications the final cost could be in excess of R100 million.

The Commission has heard evidence from serving and retired officers in the air force and navy, the beneficiaries of 26 Gripen jet fighters, 24 Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainers, 30 Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopters, four Super Lynx maritime helicopters, four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 diesel-electric Heroine Class submarines.

Others to give evidence in the Tshwane metro council chamber include former Cabinet ministers and former president Thabo Mbeki as well as senior officials from National Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry and Armscor.