'Arms deal not a waste of money'

Admiral Rusty Higgs says the arms deal worked well with South Africa’s constitution.

The Arms Deal Commission of Inquiry is being held at the Sammy Marks Conference Centre in Pretoria. Picture: Belinda Moses/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Admiral Rusty Higgs, the second witness to take the stand in the Arms Deal Commission of Inquiry says even though some of the vessels obtained through the now controversial acquisition are modest, they are still very much in tune with the best in the world.

Higgs, who is from the South African Navy, told the commission the arms deal worked well in line with the country's constitution and was not a waste of money.

He says even a visit to China saw officials very impressed with the frigates.

"These vessels, even though they are modest, they are probably of the most modern looking vessels in the world today. What also impressed the Chinese was that there were men and women serving in major functional posts on board that ship."

Four frigates and three submarines were acquired by the South African Navy through the arms deal, which is now under scrutiny at the commission.

Higgs has also told the commission spending money on boosting the country's military might is an absolute must.

He says the approximately R70 billion used to secure the now controversial arms deal was not a waste insisting that having such defence capabilities gave South Africa credibility.

But evidence leaders asked him if billions was needed to be spent when that money could have been used to address the country's many social ills.

Higgs says this was all debated and a defence review showed it was necessary.

He says spending money on the military was a must, but only without any corrupt activities which muddied the country's name.