Seriti inquiry accused of hiding evidence
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”.