Press briefing by the Arms Procurement Commission
The President of the Republic of South Africa has under section 84(2)(f) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the Allegations of Fraud, Corruption, Impropriety or Irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (the Commission). In terms of Proclamation No R4, 2012 dated 8 February 2012 and published in the Government Gazette No 35023, regulations have been promulgated with reference to the said Commission. The Chairperson of the Commission has also issued Directives which were published in Government Gazette: GN 361, GG 35325 of 9 May 2012.
In December 1999, the South African government sanctioned the acquisition of corvettes, submarines, light utility helicopters, Lead in Fighter Trainers and Advanced Light Fighter Aircraft, as part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package and authorised the Department of Defence, through its purchasing arm, Armaments Corporation, to acquire the armoury by entering into contractual agreements with preferred bidders. The total cost of the acquisition was initially estimated at R29.9 billion.
There have been numerous allegations of corruption, fraud and irregularities in the awarding and conclusion of the aforementioned contracts, hence the appointment of this Commission.
The untimely passing of the Secretary Designate of the Arms Procurement Commission, Attorney Mvuseni Ngubane, a month ago today and the decision by the Chairperson of the Commission not to proceed with the permanent designation of Advocates Vas Soni, SC and Sthembiso Mdladla, as evidence leaders, has generated a great deal of speculation and uncertainty whether the Commission would be able to commence with the inquiry and deliver on its mandate within the time frame set out in its terms of reference. The anxiety of the South African public was further exacerbated by the infrastructural challenges experienced by the Commission, which were widely publicised in the media, for example, the fact that the Commission did not have permanent premises.
To ensure that the work of the Commission is not derailed or hampered and to restore public confidence in the process, the Chairperson of the Commission, Judge Willie has, as he is authorised to do so by Regulation 4(1) and (2) of the Commission’s Regulations, published in Government Gazette No 35023 of 8 February 2012, appointed the Secretary of the Commission and 10 Evidence Leaders. The Secretary is Ms Pretty Luphondo, who is on secondment to the Commission from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the duration of the inquiry. She has an impeccable record as a senior manager and an in depth understanding of government policies. And this is important in view of the fact that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is providing operational assistance to the Commission. She has been actively involved in the establishment of operational systems of the Commission and I have found her to be effective, competent and of value to the Commission.
The following seasoned legal practitioners, who are held in high regard by their peers, have been appointed as Evidence Leaders with effect from 13 June 2012. They are Advocates Tayob Aboobaker SC, Tshepo Sibeko SC, Barry Skinner SC, Simmy Lebala SC, Moss Mphaga SC, Phumlani Ngobese, Mahlape Sello, Carol Sibiya, Sbusiso Zondi, and a Senior Attorney Matshego Ramagaga. Besides these legal practitioners, in our permanent staff complement we have qualified and experienced legal researchers and attorneys. We have no doubt that these legal minds will assist the Commission to carry out its mandate.
We are also pleased to announce that we have moved into our new office premises where the Commission will be housed for the duration of this inquiry. Our new office is located on the 21st Floor of Isivuno House, on the corner of Lillian Ngoyi/Van der Walt and Madiba/Vermeulen Streets in Pretoria. Our contacts details are:
- Tel: 012 358 3999
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
At this stage of the inquiry, the Commission is trawling for information and on 9 MAY 2012 we issued a call for submissions inviting interested parties to make submissions by way of an affidavit in respect of all or any of the items of the Terms of Reference. The closing date for submissions is 30 July 2012. The Commission once again calls upon all interested parties to make submissions. Thereafter, the Commission would consider the submissions, dates and venues of the public hearings would be determined and communicated at a later stage.
Issued by: Judge WL Seriti, Chairperson of the Arms Procurement Commission.
For inquiries contact Mr William Baloyi (078 095 9477)
14 June 2012