Arms deal: Seriti Commission slammed for excluding vital evidence

Opposition parties say the commission’s report let several people off the hook & failed to uncover the truth.

FILE. Former arms deal consultant and defence advisor, Fana Hlongwane, with advocate Jaap Cilliers at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on 11 December 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties and critics say the Seriti Commission's report has excluded vital evidence, let several people off the hook and has failed to uncover the truth in the controversial arms deal.

Yesterday, President Jacob Zuma outlined the commission's findings after a four-year long investigation, which saw government acquiring billions of rand worth of arms and equipment.

The commission found there was no evidence of wrongdoing and the deal did not prove to be corrupt or fraudulent.

The commission's report has sparked anger with arms deal whistle blower Patricia de Lille who says her faith now lies with the Constitutional Court.

"The court must later in this year give a ruling whether the 750 charges against Zuma must be reinstated," she says.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)'s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says with the likes of Schabir Shaik and Toni Yengeni being found guilty of corruption, the commission cannot find that there was no wrongdoing.

"We must be worried that in general, commissions of inquiries appointed by Zuma always exonerate himself and the executive."

Author of 'The Arms Deal in your Pocket,' Paul Holden says they will have to explore other options.

"We'll be doing some consulting for the next couple of days on what sort of response will be."

The commission did not make any recommendations and the African National Congress (ANC) says it's a closed chapter.

De Lille says the Seriti Commission's findings are designed to prove former President Thabo Mbeki was not justified in firing Zuma as deputy president.

The Cape Town Mayor tabled an arms deal dossier in Parliament as a Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) Member of Parliament in 1999 that led to the successful prosecution of Yengeni and Shaik, as well as charges against Zuma, which were later withdrawn.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says government has maintained over many years that there was no wrongdoing and that the arms deal was above board.

"As far as we understand it, there has been no wrongdoing in terms of allegations of bribery, fraud and corruption. All the commissioners are judges… they've come to that conclusion."

Radebe says Cabinet hopes the findings will bring closure on the issue.


De Lille has also said she was not surprised by the outcome.

"With all due respect to Judge Willie Seriti, this outcome that we saw was decided long before the commission started. The only thing the judge had to do was design a process to get a predetermined outcome."

Anti-arms deal critic Terry Crawford-Browne agrees.

"The report is, as we very much anticipated, a further cover up of the arms deal."