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Ramaphosa’s legal team agrees Seriti didn't properly probe arms deal claims

The court on Tuesday heard an application by Corruption Watch to set aside the findings of the inquiry which found there was no evidence of graft in the multibillion-rand deal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s legal counsel has told the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that the arms deal commission that was chaired by Judge Willie Seriti failed to investigate corruption allegations.

The court on Tuesday heard an application by Corruption Watch to set aside the findings of the inquiry that found there was no evidence of graft in the multibillion-rand deal.

Ramaphosa hasn't opposed the court bid and the president's advocate Nazeer Cassim agreed the commission failed to properly investigate corruption allegations.

“There’s no serious invitation to the evidence leaders that ‘look, you must test this evidence. Your job isn’t just come and lead evidence, your job is to come and in fact help this commission to unearth the issues which are burning out there in the public’,” Cassim said.

He said the inquiry’s findings should have been clearer.

“If this commission was serious about its functions, it would have, in fact, made strong findings in so far as corrupt practices are concerned, but more importantly, how do you then avoid that in future?”

Advocate Cassim said while the findings of the report had no practical effect, that didn’t stop the National Prosecuting Authority from pursuing corruption charges against those seen to have been exonerated in the recommendations.

The Seriti commission was appointed by then President Jacob Zuma in 2011 after allegations that politicians benefited from the corruption in the deal.

Corruption Watch argued that the Seriti commission failed to perform its functions by making no attempts to test the evidence of witnesses, gather relevant material or admit evidence that was highly material to the inquiry.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)