Source: Paul Holden’s The Arms Deal in Your Pocket, with additions from newspaper reports.
October 1995: The South African Air Force (SAAF) reviews what it needs, and decides that it only needs to replace one tier of jets: the Cheetah trainers. Its review and request is completed and formalised.
October 1995: Jacob Zuma receives his first payments from Schabir Shaik, which Shaik later claimed formed part of a pattern of loans to Zuma.
May-August 1996: The French company Thomson-CSF (later renamed Thint Holdings) sets up its local branches in South Africa by incorporating Thomson-CFS Holdings (Southern Africa) and Thomson (Pty). Thomson and Schabir Shaik’s Nkobi Holdings enter into dealings that will make Nkobi the joint partner in all of Thomson’s ventures in the country.
March 1997: The South African National Defence Force, after receiving bids from 23 suppliers for the provision of a fighter/trainer jet, chooses four bidders to enter the next stage of evaluation. They are a joint Brazilian/Italian consortium offering the AMX-T aircraft; Daimler-Benz Aerospace offering the AT2000; Aero Vodochody, offering the L159; and the Aeromacchi/Yakovlev YAK/AEM-130. Neither of BAe’s [British Aerospace] submissions, the Hawk and the Jas Gripen, make the short list as they are considered to be far too expensive and not suitable for the SAAF.
June 1997: Cabinet approves the defence review, which finds that the defence force does need to make extensive purchases to maintain its capability. Parliament approves the review two months later.
October 1997: President Thabo Mbeki opens tenders for the purchase of arms, at an initial estimated cost of R12-billion.
October 1997: Apparently acting on the instructions of defence minister Joe Modise, the SAAF decides to revert back from its two-tier fighter training proposal to a three-tier training system. This meant that the Hawk and Gripen could now be resubmitted as realistic options for the SAAF to purchase, according to Polityweb founder James Myburgh, writing in an opinion piece at the time.
Late October 1997: Further requests are sent out for information from arms companies to supply advanced light fighter aircraft: BAe now makes the short-list with the Gripen but the SAAF still favours other jets because of cost and operational ability.
March 1998: ANC MP Tony Yengeni visits DaimlerChrysler Aerospace in Brazil. He later gets a new Mercedes-Benz M-series 4×4 for half the price via a DaimlerChrysler Aerospace official.
March 1998: BAe allegedly commits to a donation of R4.5-million to the MK Military Veterans Association – Joe Modise was the life president of the Association. He intervenes just weeks later to ensure that BAe’s Hawk remains a contender in the evaluation process for the lead-in fighter trainers.
April 1998: Modise advises the team evaluating the fighter trainers to adopt a “visionary” approach to their task. He asks the team to draw up two evaluations, one of which does not take cost into account. Even so, the BAe offering is still second to Aeromacchi’s MB339FD, said to be the SAAF’s first choice.
November 1998: Cabinet approves the arms deal which carries a price tag of R30-billion. That day, Jacob Zuma, Schabir Shaik and arms dealer Thomson-CSF meet, according to information that emerged later in the Shaik trial, and Shaik’s Nkobi Holdings gets a share in subcontractor African Defence Systems (ADS).
November 1998: The auditor-general identifies the arms deal as being “high-risk” from an autiding point of view, and he requests to be allowed to investigate it.
March 1999: Speaking in Parliament, Modise claims that the arms deal will only cost South Africa R500-million a year for 15 years.
May 1999: Yengeni belatedly enters into a deal to pay for his car – seven months after he received it. This is apparently to quash rumours that he had received it as a gift from an arms supplier.
June 1999: Thabo Mbeki is elected president of South Africa, and Jacob Zuma his deputy.
September 1999:Patricia de Lille presents Parliament with a dossier (compiled by “concerned ANC MPs”) which contains allegations of extensive corruption in the arms deal negotiations. She calls for a full judicial investigation.
September 1999: Auditor-general Shauket Fakie gets authorisation from defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota to investigate the arms deal with carte blanche; just days later this is overturned by the SANDF.
November 1999: De Lille hands her dossier to Judge Willem Heath of the Special Investigating Unit, which has the legal power to cancel any government deal it finds to be corrupt.
November 1999: Modise admits he is a director of Conlog, which is expected to get a contract from contractor BAe, the supplier that has benefited the most from the arms deal.
December 1999: Finance minister Trevor Manuel, on behalf of the government, signs the final loan and purchase agreements for the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages. The total cost was R29.992-billion.
February 2000: The Office for Serious Economic Offences – later to be known as the Scorpions – says it is probing the arms deal.
March 2000: Zuma, Shaik and Alain Thetard, of Thint, allegedly meet to discuss paying Zuma R500 000 a year in return for protection against a probe into Thomson. This emerged during the Shaik trial.
August 2000: Auditor-general Shauket Faukie releases the first official report into the arms deal, finding evidence that acquisition procedures had not been followed. He recommends an investigation, and Public Protector Selby Baqwa also starts a probe.
October 2000: Scopa conducts a hearing into the deal, at which Chippy Shaik and Jayendra Naidoo are questioned – they admit that the arms deal will now cost R43.8-billion. At the end of the month it releases its 14th report into the arms deal, requesting that a “super-investigating” team be formed, and specifically requests that the Heath special investigating unit be included.
October 2000: Heath’s SIU asks for presidential permission to investigate the arms deal; this is refused by Mbeki some months later.
January 2001: Erwin, Manuel, Radebe and Lekota say at a press briefing that inflation is the reason for the increase in cost.
January 2001: Mbeki advises Heath that he will not grant permission for the SIU to investigate the arms deal. He appears on television to explain his decision.
January 2001: Andrew Feinstein is demoted from his position as Scopa’s ANC spokesperson, and is replaced by Geoff Doidge, Yengeni’s former deputy.
February 2001: The ANC distances itself from any responsibility for sub-contracts.
April 2001: Parliamentary registrar Feroza Mohamed recommends a full-scale investigation into the Yengeni matter. The ANC later uses its majority to force a resolution saying that Yengeni does not have to account for the car to the Committee of Ethics and Members’ Interests.
June 2001: Scopa’s ANC members announce that the committee is “too busy” to investigate the arms deal. Scopa’s investigation into the arms deal has been effectively sidelined by the ANC government.
July 2001: The Cape Times reports that 30 politicians and VIPs got discounts on luxury vehicles from DaimlerChrysler. Yengeni takes out a full-page newspaper ad in which he refutes all the allegations.
August 2001: Andrew Feinstein resigns as an ANC member of Parliament.
October 2001: Yengeni is arrested and charged with fraud, perjury and forgery over his 4×4 and resigns as ANC chief whip. The DaimlerChrysler Aerospace official is also arrested. The Scorpions conduct raids as part of their investigation.
October 2001: Newspapers report that the auditor-general’s August 2000 report had been edited.
November 2001: The Joint Investigation Report goes to Parliament and implicates Modise and Chippy Shaik, but exonerates the government. Opposition MPs protest at the alleged “cover-up”.
November 2001: Schabir Shaik is arrested the day after the Joint Investigation Report is presented to Parliament. On the same day Mbeki attacks those who described the joint report as a cover-up. Three days later Chippy Shaik is suspended by the Department of Defence.
November 2001: Joe Modise dies at home.
January 2002: The Department of Defence finds Chippy Shaik guilty of leaking confidential arms deal documents. He resigns in March.
February 2002: Gavin Woods resigns from Scopa in protest at the way the ANC is using its majority in the committee to prevent it from working properly. This follows Feinstein’s resignation in August 2001.
November 2002: Reports emerge in the press that Zuma is being investigated on corruption charges linked to the arms deal. This doesn’t prevent him from being elected the next month, unopposed, as ANC deputy president.
December 2002: Mo Shaik reconstructs a 1989 ANC intelligence report which claims that national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy.
February 2003: Yengeni is sentenced to four years in prison.
March 2003: Richard Young is finally allowed access to documents including drafts of the joint investigation report – these show extensive editing to reflect more favourably on the government.
June 2003: In the UK, it is revealed that BAe had paid commissions to agents to help secure the deal.
August 2003: Newspaper reports emerge that allege that Mac Maharaj was guilty of corruption involving payments from Schabir Shaik. Maharaj resigns from Discovery Holdings pending an investigation, but he is never been charged.
August 2003: Bulelani Ngcuka announces that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is to prosecute Schabir Shaik but not Deputy President Jacob Zuma. He notes that while there is a “prima facie” case of corruption against Zuma, the NPA is not confident of winning. On the same day Mbeki receives the report from Maharaj that show Ngcuka to have been an apartheid spy.
September 2003: The Hefer Commission is set up investigate the Ngcuka matter. During the hearings, it emerges that Ngcuka was not Agent RS452, but that human rights lawyer Vanessa Brereton was.
November 2003: Zuma lays a formal complaint with public protector Lawrence Mushwana, alleging that Ngcuka abused his position as the NDPP by making the “prima facie” statement.
January 2004: Hefer finds no evidence that Ngcuka took part in spy activities.
May 2004: The public protector finds that Ngcuka has abused his office and infringed on the constitutional rights of Zuma. Ngcuka resigns from his position in July.
October 2004: Schabir Shaik’s trial begins.
June 2005: Judge Hilary Squires finds Shaik guilty – he is jailed for 15 years and his lawyers appeal the sentence. At a special sitting of parliament Mbeki announces his decision to axe Zuma from his government.
June 2005: Zuma is charged with having had a “generally corrupt” relationship with Shaik. In August his house is raided by the Scorpions.
October 2005: Zuma is formally indicted on two charges of corruption. The following month he is accused of raping a woman – in May 2006 he is found not guilty.
June 2006: The UK’s Serious Fraud Office requests assistance from South African authorities in connection with their investigation into BAe and corrupt payments it may have made to certain people.
June 2006: German investigators raid the offices of ThyssenKrupp, one of the companies in the German Frigate Consortium.
September 2006: Zuma’s corruption case is struck from the roll. Later that month Lekota admits in Parliament that only 13 000 of the promised 65 000 offset-related job have been created.
November 2006: The appeal court finds in favour of Judge Squires in the Schabir Shaik case.
January 2007: Tony Yengeni is released on parole after spending four months in prison.
October 2007: Schabir Shaik’s final appeal against his charges and sentence is dismissed.
December 2007: State prosecutors announce that they are now in possession of enough evidence to charge Zuma with corruption. The ANC vows to disband the Scorpions, but the NPA announces that the trial will begin in August 2008.
March 2008: More allegations of bribery on the part of ThyssenKrupp emerge, and UK and US authorities are said to be jointly investigating. In the same month newspaper reports say that the Scorpions have begun an investigation into the BAe and Saab acquisitions.
April 2008: The General Law Amendment Bill and the Prosecuting Amendment Bill are approved by Cabinet – these have implications for the continued exitence of the Scorpions.
June 2008: Germany stops investigating alleged corruption by the German Frigate Consortium in the arms deal. ThyssenKrupp, the company under suspicion, releases a media statement claiming that the investigation had been stopped as the investigators had “found no evidence of corruption”.
August 2008: The Sunday Times reports that MAN Ferrostaal, part of the German Submarine Consortium, paid a R30-million bribe to Mbeki, who gave R2-million to Zuma and the rest to the ANC. This is denied.
August 2008: Both Zuma and the state appeal to the High Court – one for and one against pressing on with the trial.
September 2008: Corruption charges against Zuma are ruled invalid.
January 2009: Judge Nicholson’s judgment is overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals division.
April 2009: Acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe withdraws charges against Zuma.
October 2010: Hawks chief Anwar Dramat closes the unit’s investigation into the arms deal.
November 2010: Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne asks the Constitutional Court to order the president to appoint a commission of inquiry.
December 2010: The UK’s Serious Fraud Office’s BAe investigation is terminated, after a settlement in which BAE admitted guilt on accounting-related charges in only one of the matters investigated, the sale of radar equipment to Tanzania. In the same year BAe reached a settlement with US authorities, who were also investigating it.
June 2011: Swedish arms company Saab alleges a subsidiary was used by BAe to channel funds to Modise’s adviser, Fana Hlongwane.
August 2011: Auditors say Germany’s Ferrostaal paid R300-million in bribes to secure the submarine deal.
September 2011: President Jacob Zuma appoints a three-member commission into the arms deal. The commossion is to be led by Judge Willie Seriti.
November 2012: Swedish investigative programme Kalla Fakta reveals allegations of bribery, to the tune of R30-million, involving Saab and the Gripen deal.
May 2013: New allegations involving BAe appear in the press, claiming that the company had bribed former public enterprises minister Stella Sigcau by helping her daughter Portia get a job in London, supporting the girl for three years, and introducing her to company bank Lloyds Bank, with a view to getting her a job there.
June 2013: Newspaper reports reveal that the German investigators, conducting a raid on ThyssenKrupp’s Düsseldorf headquarters in 2006 to uncover evidence of irregularities in the arms deal, found an agreement allegedly signed by Tony Yengeni and a Thyssen representative for a R6-million bribe. This happened while Yengeni led the parliamentary joint standing committee on defence in 1995.
August 2013: The Seriti Commission finally gets under way, but is beset by numerous delays during the proceedings. It adjourns in November 2013 until the new year.
January 2014: The Seriti Commission resumes its investigation. Former president Thabo Mbeki, former finance minister Trevor Manuel and former defence minister Mosioua Lekota are scheduled to appear.