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'No one should be able to use arms deal inquiry findings to clear themselves'

Corruption Watch wants the court to review and set aside the 2016 findings of the Seriti commission that exonerated politicians and concluded there was no evidence of corruption in the controversial multibillion-rand deal concluded in the 1990s.

FILE: Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne is seen at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal in Pretoria on Tuesday, 20 August 2013. Pitcure: Sapa.

PRETORIA - Corruption Watch on Tuesday argued in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that no one should have the opportunity to site the findings of the arms deal commission to absolve themselves of suspected wrongdoing linked to the controversial deal.

The anti-corruption body wants the court to review and set aside the 2016 findings which exonerated politicians and concluded there was no evidence of corruption in the controversial multibillion-rand deal concluded in the 1990s.

The commission was appointed by then President Jacob Zuma in 2011 and was chaired by Judge Willie Seriti.

Zuma has relied on the findings of the Seriti commission to challenge his corruption prosecution, saying he had been exonerated by the inquiry.

It’s for this reason that Corruption Watch doesn’t want anyone to place reliance on the report.

“Judge [Dennis] Davis made the apt analogy that any defence attorney worth their mettle would raise their hand up and say: ‘look there was a commission of inquiry, it cost the South African public R137 million, and it completely exonerated my client’. Our hope is that we take that option away from them and also that the criminal justice system takes its course,” said attorney for the non-profit organisation Deborah Mutemwa-Tumbo.

Mutemwa-Tumbo said while Corruption Watch didn’t want another commission of inquiry to be established, the organisation wanted the findings of the arms deal inquiry not be allowed to stand, saying the Seriti commission did not meet the requirements of legality and rationality.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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