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Arms Deal: 6th witness gives evidence

The Arms Procurement Commission is investigating alleged corruption in the 1999 arms deal.

An AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 helicopter acquired in the arms deal. PICTURE: Dean Wingrin

JOHANNESBURG - The Arms Procurement Commission is now hearing testimony about how procurement policies work in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Captain Jacobus Jordaan, an expert on project management and acquisitions, is currently on the stand giving evidence.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 multibillion Rand arms deal.

Jordaan said while he wasn't part of the initial negotiations in the arms deal, he eventually oversaw the submarines project in Germany while they were being manufactured.

Four submarines were bought in the deal.

He was in charge of the training and logistics and worked closely with the company that built the equipment and artillery.

He is now the sixth witness from the SANDF to give evidence.

Meanwhile, Brig-Gen Pieter Burger from the South African Air Force told evidence leaders on Wednesday about the helicopters acquired in the deal.

He also spoke about five accidents involving the aircraft acquired but said these were caused by human error.

Burger told the inquiry the choppers were necessary and insisted the country can't do without them but said austerity measures had limited their use.

"It is much needed. The agility and flexibility of a helicopter system goes without saying."

BUDGET SHOCK

Last week, the Democratic Alliance (DA) expressed shock that the commission is spending less money on auditing and more on paying evidence leaders.

A written parliamentary reply from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development revealed that some R50 million per year was spent to pay the 10 evidence leaders.

The DA's David Maynier said he doesn't understand why evidence leaders are getting big salaries, but only R4.7million is being spent on forensic auditing.

Maynier said while it may be necessary to pay the evidence leaders so much, it shouldn't come at the cost of weaker auditing.

The hearing was initially expected to cost the country R40million.

The commission began work last April.

The initial budget included payment for evidence leaders, auditors, equipment and sundry expenses such as photocopies.

But the total budget was bloated to some R101million.

The commission is also likely to sit for longer than anticipated.

For a full breakdown on the Arms Deal, click here.