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Kasrils defends costly arms deal

Ronnie Kasrils said the arms acquisition team adopted a visionary approach to upgrading the defence force.

Ronnie Kasrils at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on 6 June, 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

PRETORIA - The Seriti Commission of Inquiry heard the desire to adopt a visionary approach to upgrading the defence force led to government choosing more expensive equipment in the controversial arms deal.

Former defence deputy minister Ronnie Kasrils testified at the commission in Pretoria today.

He served as defence minister Joe Modise's deputy from 1994 until 1999, the year cabinet approved the deal.

Kasrils said the arms acquisition team adopted a visionary approach to upgrading the defence force to ensure it was part of the global defence industry.

Evidence leader Simmy Lebala referred to minutes from meetings in 1997 where this approach was discussed, along with concerns that the hawk fighter trainer would double the cost of the purchase.

It was also noted in that meeting that the most inexpensive option was not necessarily the best option.

Kasrils said there was buy-in from the government that the acquisition could come from off-budget agreements between states.

He further argued that the hawk was more expensive because it had operational capability, unlike the cheaper option being considered at the time.

Last week the co-commissioner accused the evidence leader of being ill-prepared to properly question Kasrils.

Lebala spent several hours questioning Kasrils without getting to the crux of the issue, before Judge Thekiso Musi interrupted him.

Video: Kasrils testifies.

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