First witnesses to testify in arms deal inquiry

The commission resumed on Monday after a two week postponement.

The Arms Deal Commission resumed on 19 August after a two week postponement. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The first witnesses are expected to start testifying at the Arms Deal Commission's public hearings today.

The commission resumed on Monday after a two week postponement in order to sort out the classification of documents and the composition of the commission.

The inquiry into the multibillion Rand deal, which was set up by President Jacob Zuma in 2011, is investigating allegations of corruption.

Members of the navy are expected to be the first witnesses to testify as part of the first phase of public hearings.

The Department of Trade and Industry is also expected to give evidence on the jobs that were created through the arms deal.

Anti-arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne said he's also been called to appear this morning after he objected to some parts of the hearing being held behind closed doors.

"It was advertised on Friday as being a closed session and this was a contradiction of all the assurances the Minister of Justice had given back in October 2011 that this would be an open transparent process. So obviously I smelt a rat."

ZUMA'S PREROGATIVE

There's been public outcry over whether the commission can continue with only two commissioners following the resignation of Judge Francis Legodi earlier this month.

But President Zuma announced that he would not replace Judge Legodi, and instead reconstituted the commission which now only includes the two remaining judges, Willie Seriti, who is heading the inquiry, and Thekiso Musi.

Seriti has said the appointment of an extra commissioner is President Zuma's prerogative.

The commission has faced several setbacks since being established, casting its credibility into the spotlight.

In January, senior investigator Norman Moabi quit after writing to Judge Seriti, alleging that the commission was not transparent and had a "second agenda".

In May, commission secretary Mvuseni Ngubane was found dead in his car in KwaZulu-Natal. Police said a suicide note was found next to his body.