18 August 2016
Corruption Watch (CW) and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) are preparing to challenge the findings of the Seriti Commission in court. The litigation will be launched in the North Gauteng High Court in September 2016 and founding papers will be placed on the applicants’ websites.
The Seriti Commission was chaired by Judge Willie Seriti. It was tasked with investigating allegations of corruption in South Africa’s arms deal. It ended its three-year investigation by stating that it had found no evidence of such – despite massive evidence which it failed even to look at during an investigation that cost the public over R100-million. Literally millions of documents, collected and stored by the now disbanded Scorpions, went unexamined.
CW and R2K will now challenge the findings of the commission in the North Gauteng High Court, aiming to have the outcome set aside on the basis that the commission failed to carry out its mandate. This was to carry out a full and independent investigation of the matter.
The court application will be primarily aimed at setting aside a finding which has been widely criticised on the basis that the commission did not carry out a proper investigation and simply accepted evidence which was presented to it by those who were involved in the arms deal, without questioning it or testing it. The organisations will not seek the establishment of a new enquiry but will limit relief to the setting aside of the commission’s findings.
CW and R2K aim to ensure that of one of the worst examples of corruption in South Africa’s history will not be whitewashed. An order setting aside the findings will provide an important precedent for the conduct of future commissions of enquiry.
The commission, under Judge Seriti’s leadership, was tainted from the start by procedural irregularities. Crucial information and documents were withheld from the public and from witnesses and participants. Vital witnesses were not called, and witnesses seen as “critics” were hampered unfairly. Several commission staff members resigned in protest at the commission’s conduct. Arms deal critics, represented by Lawyers for Human Rights, withdrew their participation, contending that they had been treated unfairly.
CW and R2K contend that the commission did not conduct the inquiry in accordance with its mandate, and that serious procedural irregularities undermine the credibility of its findings.
For more information, contact:
Corruption Watch: Patience Mkosana 072 992 8380
Right2Know Campaign: Godfrey Phiri 078 733 1236
Note to media: Please attribute contents of this statement to Corruption Watch and the Right2Know Campaign, not to any individuals unless you contact a spokesperson for specific comments.