In the Commission’s last press conference hosted by the Press Club on the 14th June 2012 at the CSIR, the Chairperson of the Commission, Judge W L Seriti, released a comprehensive statement wherein he gave a brief background to the formation of the Commission, announced its full complement of Commissioners and the support staff. The statement also gave details of the premises from where the Commission is conducting its business, the Commission’s postal address as well as contact details, including those of its Spokesperson. A further call was made to interested parties to make submissions by the 30th July 2012. At the same conference, the Commissioners explained the phases/stages through which the Commission’s work was to be carried out. We indicated then that we had concluded the first phase and were embarking on the second phase.
We are pleased to announce that the second phase is now almost concluded and we are ready to move into the third phase, the public hearings. But it is apposite to first comment briefly on the work covered in the second phase, just to give a glimpse of the magnitude of the task at hand and to dispel the false notion peddled by some people as reported in sections of the media that we have been dragging our feet for some unknown ulterior motive.
We issued requests for information to various government institutions and departments, including the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Office of the Auditor General, the National Prosecuting Authority, Parliament, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Cabinet, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, the National Treasury, DTI, the Department of Defence and Armscor. Requests for information were also submitted to financial institutions. As already indicated, we called for public submissions to be made by the 30th July 2012. The response to the call for public submissions was disappointingly poor. We received only seven submissions, and although we had made it clear in subsequent press releases that the Chairperson would exercise his discretion to consider late submissions, non-whatsoever were received after the 30th July 2012.
By contrast, almost all government entities have thus far co-operated with the Commission and have provided us with the documentation and information we requested. Further documentation is being sourced from these and other institutions. The process is on-going. Currently, approximately 4.5 million pages of documentation have been lodged with and analysed by the Commission.
As you may be aware, the conglomerates that were awarded contracts to supply the Hawks and Gripen fighter jets, light utility helicopters, submarines and corvettes military equipment to the South African government in 1999 are foreign entities incorporated in the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and Italy.
It is common knowledge that Saab’s affairs were the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Sweden. Similarly, the Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom and investigative institutions in Dusseldorf and Munich in Germany have conducted investigations into the allegations of bribery and corruption involving BAE and Thyssenkrupp respectively in relation to the supply of armaments. The Commission could not ignore the crucial information and/or evidence that could have been amassed by these investigative bodies. Accordingly letters of requests for information, evidence and/or meetings were directed to authorities and entities in Germany, Liechtenstein, Sweden and the United Kingdom. They all graciously agreed to meet with the representatives of the Commission and those meetings were held in June and August 2012 and were extremely helpful.
We also interviewed key people inside the country as part of our on-going efforts to gather information or assess available information. It was as part of this process that we conducted a number of briefing sessions with members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation as well as the former Directorate for Special Operations. A team of Forensic Auditors / Investigators has also been engaged to probe and compile a report on the vast number of banking accounts and statements at our disposal as part of the investigations. These investigative processes will continue and run concurrently with the Public Hearings.
The information generated in the second phase has put us in a much better position to commence with the public hearings than would have been the case had we heeded the exhortations of some people as reported in the media to haphazardly plunge into the public hearings. We understood from the beginning that the public hearings would be the high point mark of the Commission’s work and needed to be able to properly plan for them.
The public hearings will also be conducted in phases. For now we focus on the first phase. In this phase we intend to deal with the allegations of irregularity and wrongdoing that have been made in the public space for years. These allegations will be interrogated to determine whether they can be substantiated by fact and to assess the veracity of the evidence obtained as a result. The witnesses to be called have been selected to fit into the theme of this phase. Most are people who have played prominent roles in exposing the allegations and /or have campaigned to compel the government to institute a commission to inquire into the allegations. Some of them did parliamentary work at the time when the acquisition process started in 1998, either as members of Parliament’s select portfolio committees or as ordinary parliamentarians. Most of them have recorded their observations of and concerns about the procurement process in published speeches, articles or books. In the list of witnesses is also a losing bidder for one of the arms procurement sub contracts who has ascribed his failure to be awarded the contract to alleged manipulation of the tender process. Some of the people mentioned here have visited foreign countries where some of the successful bidders are located to interact with the investigators there who have probed the process from the side of the successful bidders. It is hoped that they will share with the Commission the information obtained from their sources.
Included in the witness list is a representative of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation who has been closely involved with the investigation of the procurement process from the days of the Scorpions. It is expected that he will give an overview of the scope of the investigations, the results, if any, the challenges and to give an indication of the way forward. Also included in the witness list is a person whose name features in most of the allegations as a possible beneficiary of the arms procurement process. He also features as a suspect in some of the investigations conducted in the matter. It is hoped that he will enlighten the Commission on the role he played, if any, in the acquisition process and the legal basis, if any, for the benefits derived.
At the conclusion of the first phase of the public hearings, the Commission will adjourn in order to analyse and assess the evidence thus far and make provisional factual findings thereon, to be incorporated in our next interim report. Thereafter the second phase of the public hearings will commence. In the latter phase, we will be dealing with the information gathered through our own investigations. It is in this phase that we expect to call as witnesses some of the key role players in the acquisition process as well as other people who are implicated by the information available, either as alleged beneficiaries or suspects in the general allegations of bribery, fraud and other illegal activities. We say no more about this phase because details will be given at the appropriate time.
Annexed hereto is a separate document containing a list of witnesses, the venue and the dates of the hearings.
For All Media Enquiries Please Contact:
Mr HW Baloyi1. David Maynier
Senior Manager Communications: Arms Procurement Commission
Contact number cell: 078 095 9477
Contact number office: (012) 358-3999
Contact Email address: email@example.com
ANNEXURE: LIST OF WITNESSES
2. Patricia De Lille
3. Major General Meiring
4. Colonel Du Plooy
5. Paul Hoffman
6. Terry Crawford-Browne
7. Dr R Young
8. Gavin Woods
9. Andrew Feinstein
10. Paul Holden
11. Raenette Taljaard
12. Fana Hlongwane
VENUE: Council Chambers, Sammy Marks Conference Centre, Cnr Lilian Ngoyi and Madiba Streets, Pretoria, Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality
Dates of Public hearings: 4 March 2013 to 31 May 2013
William Baloyi: Senior Manager Communication
24 November 2012