Ser­iti in­quiry ac­cused of hid­ing ev­i­dence

Business Day - - NATIONAL - Claudi Mailovich Po­lit­i­cal Writer mailovichc@busi­nesslive.co.za

The Ser­iti com­mis­sion, which ex­on­er­ated top politi­cians, in­clud­ing former pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, of cor­rup­tion in the multi­bil­lion-rand arms deal, mis­led the pub­lic and failed to up­hold its man­date to in­ves­ti­gate the claims of malfea­sance it was aware of, ac­cord­ing to Cor­rup­tion Watch and Right2Know.

On Thurs­day, both filed a sup­ple­men­tary af­fi­davit in the high court in Pre­to­ria in their bid to re­view and set aside judge Wil­lie Ser­iti’s 2016 find­ing that there was no cor­rup­tion in­volved in the deal.

Cor­rup­tion Watch’s David Lewis says that based on the com­mis­sion’s in­com­plete record of its de­ci­sion, it would be suf­fi­cient to re­view and set aside the find­ings.

The two or­gan­i­sa­tions say the doc­u­ments they re­ceived re­vealed that the com­mis­sion had hid­den ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion; and that by fail­ing to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion abroad, it made no at­tempt to in­ves­ti­gate se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion put be­fore it; and that it failed to in­ves­ti­gate new al­le­ga­tions that have come to light.

In the af­fi­davit, Cor­rup­tion Watch and Right2Know say the record showed that the com­mis­sion had, for ex­am­ple, been given doc­u­ments that in­cluded cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the Scor­pi­ons and the UK’s Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice con­tain­ing ev­i­dence re­lated to Mbeki and former Arm­scor direc­tor Seth Pha­latse. The UK author­ity told the Scor­pi­ons that it had in­for­ma­tion about an “in­ti­mate din­ner” Mbeki had with Pha­latse, Diliza Mji, Richard Charter and Niall Irv­ing, who were all linked to arms giant BAE Sys­tems, which was ac­cused of hav­ing paid “com­mis­sions” to ANC-linked “agents” and “con­sul­tants”.

Lewis said the al­le­ga­tion that Mbeki had an in­ti­mate din­ner with those spe­cific role­play­ers was “very ma­te­rial”. At the time Mbeki was deputy pres­i­dent of the coun­try as well as the head of the in­ter­min­is­te­rial sub­com­mit­tee that over­saw the se­lec­tion process of the strate­gic de­fence pro­cure­ment pack­ages.

Lewis said Mbeki was not asked about the din­ner by the com­mis­sion. Mji, Irv­ing and Pha­latse were not called to give ev­i­dence at all.

The Thabo Mbeki Foun­da­tion said Mbeki was out of SA and “has nei­ther seen nor read the sub­mis­sions and is un­able to com­ment at this stage”.

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