Arms deal update: Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority briefings

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

07 September 2010
Chairperson: Mr T Godi (APC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee had asked the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) to give an update on the still-active Arms Deal investigations relating to British Aerospace (BEA) and the German Frigate Consortium (GFC). The National Prosecuting Authority did not give a separate presentation but answered Members’ queries. The DPCI outlined the background of the Arms Deals investigation, and noted that the preparatory investigations had been launched on 6 November 2000. The GFC investigations were not formerly handled by the Directorate of Special Operations but were part of the preparatory investigations, and were registered in November 2009 with a Brooklyn case number, following a complaint lodged in Knysna by Richard Young. The continuation of the investigation depended upon information that would need to be obtained from the German authorities. A prosecutor must be assigned to the matter, to obtain a Letter of Request (LOR) order. The matter was referred to the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit in June 2010. If the German authorities cooperated the matter was likely to be another three to five years in investigation before the National Prosecuting Authority would be in a position to make a decision on a possible prosecution. The BEA investigation had commenced in February 2008, as a result of information from other law enforcement agencies, especially the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the United Kingdom. Search warrants were obtained on seven premises and four applications for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLAs) were granted in December 2008. This investigation was continuing in South Africa, although during 2009 the SFO and BAE had entered into plea bargains, which were finalised in 2010, without South Africa’s request for involvement being acceded to, and SFO had halted its investigations. The DPCI also outlined that although it had made application for a preservation order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, in connection with money in Lichtenstein that was thought to be the proceeds of crime, this had later been abandoned, although NPA was still deciding whether to prosecute the two suspects. Although the matter had taken some time, the DPCI pointed out that much of the information dated back to 1996 to 1999, that there was a vast amount of information to study, and that the outcome was heavily dependent on whether foreign cooperation could be obtained and what it might reveal.

Many of the Members’ comments and questions related to the time lapse, and the length of time still required, and they made the point that there was a public perception that the matter was dragging on for too long, that perhaps there was “foot-dragging” and asked in terms whether the NPA had frustrated the DPCI in any way, whether sufficient resources were being allocated to the matters, and whether the matters would be expedited. They agreed that the costs, although substantial, should not detract from the fact that justice must be seen to be done. However, they also made the point that very little seemed to have happened from the time of the last report, and it was still not known whether the request for assistance and cooperation would e given. Members asked questions of clarity about the amounts involved, the forfeiture order applications, when the matter was handed over for a decision on prosecution, what had been discussed when Adv Simelane had visited the United Kingdom some years ago, whether it was usual for the South African request to participate to have been refused, and whether the matters had been discussed with the President or Cabinet Members, and whether there had been any attempts to influence or direct the course of investigations. The Chairperson noted that questions relating to anything other than these two deals should not be answered at this meeting, but a DA Member indicated that he wished to have a written report on the 48 matters that were included in the Auditor-General’s report initially. Members discussed whether the Committee had sufficiently followed up on the resolution taken in 2001. Members also discussed whether documents of public record that were handed to the Chairperson in his personal capacity by Mr Crawford-Browne should have been circulated before the meeting to other Members.   

Members briefly noted that the Committee would need to make input into the Association of Public Accounts Committees’ constitution and proposed that the Committee discuss the wording of amendments around the associate membership of municipalities. Members also noted that the Committee would still need to look at the SABC Special Investigation Report, and would also need to pursue what an investigation into the Commission on Gender Equality had revealed, or what processes that Commission was pursuing. Members also noted that the political impasse with Minister Sisulu had not been resolved, and the Chairperson said that, in hindsight, the Committee perhaps had not followed the best route, but that the matter would be taken up with the Chief Whip of the ANC, although a DA Member noted that his party did not support this approach and would prefer it to follow the institutional route.

Meeting report

Arms Deal update
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that at the beginning of 2009 there had been engagement on the arms investigation, which had now been transferred to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI or the Hawks). The Committee wished to get an update on the process, and to be advised what may have happened since the previous year. He also noted that Adv Menzi Simelane, National Director of Public Prosecutions, was at the meeting.

Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) presentation
Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat, Head: Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, noted that the DPCI was launched on 6 July 2009, and outlined its mandate. Its founding Act specifically stated that its formation did not affect the validity of any investigation or prosecution conducted, pending or under investigation by the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO or the Scorpions) before that day. As a result the DPCI had inherited a number of investigations, including the “Arms Deal” probe.

He noted that the Arms Deal matters dated back to 2000, following the report of the Joint Investigation Team. On 6 November 2000, the Director of the Directorate of Serious Economic Offences had instituted a preparatory investigation in terms of Section 28(13) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act, relating to allegations of corruption and fraud, in connection with the acquisition of armaments by the Department of Defence.

He noted that this presentation would only concentrate on the status of two investigations that formed part of the broader Arms Acquisition Deal and that were still active. These were the British Aerospace (BAE) and German Frigate Consortium (GFC) investigations. The investigation had so far taken almost ten years, and had covered a wide field. He noted that portions of it had been completed – such as the Shaik / Thint matter (which had been finalised) the Zuma / Thint matter (which was closed, charges having been withdrawn in April 2009), and Yengeni / DASA leg (which was finalised), whilst the Mac Maharaj leg was inactive pending the NPA decision. The BAE and GFC investigations were still active.

The GFC leg of the Arms Deal investigations had been part of the preparatory investigation from November 2000 but was not one of the DSO investigations. This was only registered in November 2009 with a Brooklyn Case Number. He added that Richard Young had submitted a compliant to Adv Mpshe, the then-Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, in March 2008, but the latter did not act on it. A further complaint had been lodged in Knysna in 2009, which led to the allocation of the Brooklyn number.

In this case, the continuation of the South African investigation depended upon information that would need to be obtained from the German authorities. A prosecutor had to be allocated to the matter to obtain the Letter of Request (LOR) order. In June 2010 a written request was made by DPCI to the North Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions, and this was subsequently referred to the Special Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU) who would deal with it. He noted that if the German authorities cooperated it was likely that the investigation could take three to five years before the NPA would be in a position to make its decision on any possible prosecution. This was not to suggest that the investigation would automatically lead to a possible prosecution, as this could only be determined after the investigation had been done.

Lieut-Gen Dramat then turned to the BEA investigation. As a result of information from other law enforcement agencies, especially the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the United Kingdom of Britain (UK), a full investigation was declared on 14 February 2008. This developed to a stage where the DSO executed search warrants on seven premises. Four applications for mutual legal assistance by a foreign entity (MLA) were granted in December 2008. This investigation was continuing in South Africa. However, during 2009 the SFO in the UK and BAE entered into plea bargain negotiations, which were finalised early in 2010. The SFO had now closed its investigation on BAE. The South African leg of the SFO investigations was excluded from the negotiations, and so SAPS and the NPA were never consulted in respect of those negotiations.

The outcome of the MLA and LOR applications was still awaited.

In March 2010 an application for a preservation order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act was brought before a Judge in Chambers. The order was granted in respect of money in a Lichtenstein Bank Account. However, after the National Director of Public Prosecutions received representations from the respondent / suspect, the NPA had abandoned the application. In April 2010 the investigating officer had invited one of the suspects to submit an explanation, and a written explanation was submitted in June 2010, similar to the representations in respect of the Asset Forfeiture application. The SAPS docket was handed to the NPA in June 2010. NPA must now decide whether to institute criminal proceedings against the two suspects. 

Lieut Gen Dramat summarised the time periods. Although the matter originated in 2000, new information was received in 2007, and a full investigation was declared in February 2008. Much of the evidence dated back to the periods from 1996 to 1999. The Joint Investigating team part of the investigation had fallen in the period 1998. The time lapse may affect a successful prosecution. Even with the necessary resources being allocated, the investigation could still take three to five years to conclude. During the search and seizure, 460 boxes of documents were seized, and 4.7 million computer print-outs were also taken. He emphasised that this represented a substantial load. It had not necessarily been decided that papers from computer information were also taken. This was a substantial load of paperwork to go through. It was not necessarily  given that more investigating officers would be assigned, but DPCI was in a position to strengthen the team, if required. He also stressed that the investigation was heavily dependent on the cooperation of foreign authorities, and the willingness of witnesses to testify abroad. He said that it was necessary to make a decision what route South Africa wished to take on the matter.

The Chairperson noted that page 6 of the presentation spoke of a docket having been handed to the NPA in June 2010. He asked whether the NPA could confirm that it had that docket, and whether a decision had been taken on it.

Adv Menzi Simelane, National Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the SCCU had confirmed that it had the docket and would advise when it was in a position to take a decision.

Ms M Matladi (UCDP) wanted to establish why those two cases were so long outstanding. She also questioned the timing, and asked whether the three to five year period referred to was calculated from 2009, or from this year. She enquired why the DPCI and NPA had been waiting for so long.

Lieut-Gen Dramat referred to the chronology that he had already sketched. It was necessary also to be mindful of the transition from the DSO to the DPCI. However, the investigating officer who had originally worked on the matter at DSO had transferred to the DPCI and had been retained on the case. Now that the dockets were handed over to the NPA, it must also do investigations, appoint a prosecutor and get legal assistance from abroad. Depending on whether assistance was forthcoming, it would take another three to five years from this point for the investigating team to obtain the evidence and work through the documents.

Ms Matladi also questioned why the application referred to on page 6 was “abandoned

Adv Simelane noted that this related to the civil part of the investigation against one individual. About R 8 million was placed in the Lichtenstein account, which appeared to have been related to this matter, and so a forfeiture process was instituted to try to recover that money, since documents submitted appeared to indicate that this money may have been the proceeds of crime. When this was further investigated, there was no evidence to support this, and in fact it appeared that the money was the result of a legitimate contract. The NPA was thus not persuaded that there was a necessity, or justification for pursuing the forfeiture. Further investigations were in any event being continued by the DPCI. Finally, the Lichtenstein authorities indicate that they were closing their investigations and not pursuing the matter. NPA had abandoned the matter because there was no basis for continuing it.

The Chairperson asked for, and received, confirmation that this related to civil proceedings.

Ms Matladi asked what amounts were involved in the two cases.

Lieut Gen Dramat replied the whole BAE deal involved R22 million but it was not certain yet how much was tied to the criminal matter. The GFC whole deal was R11 million but again he could not comment on what exactly was tied to the criminal matter. 

Mr N Singh (IFP) noted that the last slide mentioned that significant costs and time were involved. Costs should not be a consideration in ensuring that justice was done, and seen to be done. Many other cases had cost millions, resulting in plea bargain or pardons. This must be similarly pursued to the end. He referred to the comment that it was necessary to assess whether it was “in the best interests of the country to pursue this investigation” Any investigation that was investigating around R400 million was worthwhile, from both a cost and time perspective. He called for the matter to be expedited.

Mr Singh questioned the statement that Parliament needed to take a decision on what was needed.

Mr P Pretorius (DA) said that the last sentence of the presentation seemed to suggest that the DPCI were inferring that Parliament must take an executive decision whether to proceed or not. He asked the Head of DPCI to confirm that in fact DPCI was an independent unit that would not listen to Parliament.

Lieut Gen Dramat responded that all DPCI investigations were carried out impartially and would be seen through to their logical conclusion. The matters were presented to the NPA, for this body to take decisions around prosecution. He confirmed that it was not necessary for Parliament to give an instruction. On the contrary, the DPCI structure was set up so that DPCI would be able to approach a retired judge if it felt that there was any undue influence.

Mr Pretorius asked whether the last line of the presentation would be withdrawn.

The Chairperson noted that the last paragraph was talking to time frames and costs. Mr Singh’s earlier point had been related to the issue of costs in the dispensing of justice. He agreed that no price tag could be put on the pursuit of justice. The question of Parliament in the process did not arise.

After this exchange the last line of the presentation was formally removed from the presentation by the presenters.

Mr Singh noted that although he had not interacted on this matter before, there was a perception that the matter was dragging on too long. Perceptions had a way of turning into reality in the public mindset.

Lieut-Gen Dramat reiterated that unfortunately this was not a simple matter. Those experienced in investigations and had outlined the likely the timeframes and cost.

Mr Singh noted that normally in a criminal matter there would be a complainant, investigation, prosecution and trial. He asked if this process was being followed.

The Chairperson noted that the decision whether to prosecute rested with the NPA. He added that the DPCI had already outlined the quantity of documentation and said that time was needed.

Mr M Steele (DA) asked for confirmation that the DPCI was launched in July 2009, and that at the time that it had been established it had taken over the DSO investigations, which meant that from 2009 DPCI was the mandated authority for the Arms Deal Investigations.

Lieut Gen Dramat confirmed that in July 2009 one of the investigations was the BAE investigation.

Mr Steele said he needed to establish this, because he had submitted a written question to the Minister of Police about the allegations that the amount of US$3 million was paid to a then-member of the Defence Secretariat, asking who was heading the investigation, and whether it was conducted with assistance of the German authorities. A written answer was given on 4 June 2010, from the Minister, claiming that the matter was now with the NPA, and that further questions should be directed to the Minister of Justice. He asked if the Minister of Police had been informed what was going on in this matter, since the Committee had been informed that the matter was with DPCI. He was concerned whether the Minister was receiving the correct information from his own officials.

Lieut-Gen Dramat confirmed that the docket was handed to the NPA in June 2010 for the appointment of a prosecutor.

Mr Steele asked if that related directly to the $3 million dollar frigate matter.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that both the GFC and BEA case dockets were with the NPA.

Mr Pretorius referred to page 4 of the presentation, and noted that the continuation of the South African investigation was heavily dependent on information from the German authorities. In January 2009, a report had been given to this Committee by NPA that the German authorities had directed a request for mutual legal assistance to the South African authorities, who had returned this with their own further requests. This was surely an indication that the German authorities were prepared to assist. He asked why South Africa had not initially cooperated with the German authorities, and had possibly lost an opportunity.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that the docket was with the NPA for appointment of a prosecutor. At that stage mutual legal assistance would have to be pursued. Much of the potential evidence was abroad.

Adv Simelane added that there had always been cooperation with the German authorities. At the time of the German request to South Africa, certain questions relating to the request had been sent back by him, in his capacity then as a Department of Justice official.  He could not recall whether a response had been received to those by the time he had left the Department of Justice.

The Chairperson asked what “cooperation” would mean in practice, what was actually happening, and what the current status was.

Adv Simelane said that when the NPA had made a decision on what further evidence would be required, it would give an indication of what that evidence was, and where it could be obtained, and the relevant avenues would be further pursued.

Mr D Maynier (DA) noted that cooperation with foreign investigators and authorities was key to the whole investigation. He asked the NPA if it was fully committed to assist the DPCI with that cooperation. In the GFC case a prosecutor still had to be allocated, and the outcome of the MLA request was still awaited. It seemed that the NPA might be frustrating that part of the process. Mr Maynier also pointed out that in about 2007 Adv Simelane had met with the SFO in the UK, and cooperation had ceased around that time.

Adv Simelane said that there were two issues. Prosecutors were allocated to every police case being investigated, and no police investigation would ever be concluded without such allocation. The same would apply here. The second issue related to the foreign cooperation, and this was facilitated through a central authority; in this case the head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Although the NPA would prepare documentation to be sent to the central authority, the cooperation would actually take place through diplomatic channels, and would await the execution of the MLA.

Adv Simelane confirmed that he, representing the central authority, together with the then-Acting Head of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, then-Acting Head of the DSO and then-Chief Director: International Relations of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, had visited the UK. This meeting was arranged to clarify the lines of communication. The SFO was, at the time, not complying with the legislation as it was not cooperating and engaging through the correct South African channels, but was dealing with DSO directly. This led to concerns about the legality of the engagement. At this meeting, the law was clarified, and proper lines of communication were agreed upon.

Mr S Thobejane (ANC) acknowledged the complexity of the matter. He asked whether the DPCI had any idea of the amounts being investigated. He also asked whether they had identified that Parliament may have any significant role to play, including possibly amending any laws that may constrain the DPCI from achieving what it wished to.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that the figures were around R300 million for BEA, and about US$35 million (about R180 million ) for GFC. It was as yet too early for DPCI to identify anything that may need to be done, but it must report back to Parliament in two years.

Ms T Chiloane (ANC) asked what progress there was on the Richard Young complaint.

Lieut Gen Dramat noted that the Knsyna case opened by Richard Young had resulted in the Brooklyn case being opened. The appointment of the prosecutor was awaited at the moment.

Ms Chiloane asked what this meant in practice.

Lieut Gen Dramat responded that the NPA still had to assess what information would be needed from abroad.

Mr M Malale (ANC) asked if Mr Young had opened a criminal case, saying that if there was a criminal investigation pending on this matter, it might not be appropriate for Parliament to call for reports, and wondered if Parliament was being called upon to become another investigating unit.

Lieut Gen Dramat reiterated that the Brooklyn case was based on that compliant.

Ms Chiloane asked Adv Simelane what progress had been made, and whether the referrals from one office to another were not contributing to delays.

Adv Simelane said that quite a lot had been achieved. He could not insist that matters be dealt with by a stated deadline. He hoped that a memorandum would be submitted soon.

Ms A Muthambi (ANC) noted that in the BEA matter, SFO had closed its investigations but excluded the South African team. She asked why this had happened, whether it happened prior to Adv Simelane’s visit to the UK, and what the implications of SFO’s decision were to the South African investigations.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that there was a request made from outside for South Africa to participate in the SFO matter, but this did not receive a favourable response. The implication of the plea bargain entered into with BEA could possibly impact negatively in terms of the type of cooperation, willingness of witnesses to testify and so on. However, DPCI needed to go through the process of making the applications to see what happened.

The Chairperson asked whether it was usual for one law enforcement unit to enter into a plea bargain, when it was aware that South Africa also had an interest.

Mr Simelane said that the plea bargain was finalised in 2010, two to three years after his visit.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that he was not sure whether the refusal of the request to involve South Africa was usual. Certainly it would have been of assistance if this had been favourably considered.

Ms M Mangena (ANC) asked Adv Simelane whether, after leaving the Department, he had asked his colleagues whether they had received a response from the German authorities.

Adv Simelane said he had not. He suggested that the present status of the communication should be sought from the current central authority. He could not recall precisely what had happened at the time. He would not have followed up on this, as it was no longer his responsibility once he left the Department.

Ms Mangena was not entirely happy with this response, and thought that he would have at least have asked if his colleagues had not received a response on this important matter.

The Chairperson noted that when Adv Simelane had left the department, all his matters would have been taken over by new people, so he had no further legal responsibility.

Mr Maynier asked Lieut Gen Dramat whether the DPCI had in the past received, and was presently getting full cooperation from the NPA.

Lieut Gen Dramat said again that the forward movement of the investigation depended heavily on foreign assistance, and this was in the process of being followed. The presentation of the dockets had taken some time, but there had not been any frustration or hindrance from the side of the NPA.

Mr Maynier noted that the fact that only one investigator seemed to be assigned to the matter amounted, in his view, to a “non-investigation”.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that he had appointed Major General J (Hans) Meiring, the Head of the Commercial Crimes Unit, and Colonel Johan du Plooy, located in the Office for Serious Economic Offences, to be responsible for the matter. They had access to resources and expertise. Depending how matters unfolded, the DPCI could allocate additional experienced personnel, if Major General Meiring indicated there was a need.

Mr Maynier said that there had always been suspicions or inferences that there had been some kind of political interference. He asked whether the presenters had ever discussed the Arms Deal matter with the President, any Minister or former Minister, and if there had been any attempts to influence or direct the course of their investigations.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that he had met with the President on only one occasion, when he was appointed, and any conversation that they had was limited to referring to his appointment. Although Lieut Gen Dramat had indicated to the Minister that he had been called to SCOPA to report on the issues, he had not had any discussions about any investigation, including the Arms Deal, with the Minister. There had never been any pressure or undue influence placed on him in connection with this investigation. All those involved in the investigation were familiar with the Act and the provision regarding the retired Judge, and could equally approach that judge if they felt that Lieut Gen Dramat was attempting to influence them.

Adv Simelane said he had not held any discussions with President Zuma. In his capacity with the central authority, he had passed on some information about the investigation’s progress to the former Minister. He too had never had any political influence brought to bear on him personally.

Ms Matladi began to ask a question in relation to page 3, especially the bullet points in relation to the Zuma/Thint matter. Reacting to ANC Members’ rumbles, she said “They are squealing, and I know why…”

Mr Malale called a point of order. He objected to this statement by Ms Matladi and said that he regarded it as an insult.

The Chairperson ruled that Ms Matladi was not out of order and suggested that Members discuss this statement later.

Mr Malale asked what would happen if Members ruled that the Chairperson was out of order.

Ms Matladi said that her reference to “squealing” referred to the ANC Members laughing.

Ms Matladi continued with her question. She wanted to ask for the reasons that had led to the withdrawal of the Zuma/Thint leg of the investigation in April 2009, and also wanted reasons for the comment on the same slide that the Mac Majaraj leg was “pending an active decision”.

The Chairperson did not want the presenters to respond. He said that the purpose of this engagement was to deal with BEA and GFC. The information on the slide to which Ms Matladi referred was given as background information only. The presenters had not been asked to speak to general matters. Although it was tempting to go into those matters, he would not do so at this meeting.

Ms Matladi pointed out that these comments were recorded in the presentation, and asked that her reservations about why her questions should not be answered should be noted.

Mr Pretorius said that in January 2009 the NPA had given a report on the status of the investigations up to the end of 2008. It was reported then that an MLA must be sought. It was now two years later, and nothing further appeared to have happened on this point.

Lieut Gen Dramat said that the process simply had to be followed, because there was no other way. The dockets were presented to the NPA in June 2010.

Mr Pretorius noted that Mr Terry Crawford-Browne had apparently submitted some affidavits to Parliament, and that it was unfortunate that Committee Members did not have them before the hearings.

The Chairperson confirmed that Mr Crawford-Browne had handed those documents to him personally, but not to the Committee, which was why they had not been distributed. They related to information about the application for the warrants on 9 November, that led to the raiding of seven premises.

Mr Steele also wanted to comment on the widespread perception that there was “foot-dragging”, and said that there were unconscionable delays around the whole investigation and prosecution. He accepted that some of the material went back to 1996, that some countries had in the meantime amended their anti-corruption laws, and the plea bargains and admission of guilt fines were other factors. However, time was moving on. He noted that it was alleged that the GFC amount was used to push the contract from second to first place, and noted that it was now included in the investigation. He asked that Adv Simelane must confirm that he had the necessary resources, will and urgency to carry this matter forward.

Adv Simelane said that the matter would be dealt with in accordance with the law, as reasonably and expeditiously as possible. However, the NPA would not do anything to please any party. Every case would be accorded the necessary attention. He had already indicated that he would not require that this matter should be rushed. When he had received the documents, he would consider them and deal with them. However, he would not accord this case any special treatment. He was unable to say whether the resources were sufficient for the task, as he was not sure what the extent of the task would be. In the normal course, the NPA had sufficient resources.

Mr Steele said that this was an unsatisfactory response. It did not indicate the complexity and nature of the task, and the resources that must be applied.

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee also did not know the work or the complexities involved. It was hoped that the perception of foot-dragging would remain a perception only, and the reality was that the matter would be dealt with expeditiously.

Ms L Mashiane (COPE) asked if there was any possibility that this matter may not be concluded before the end of the Fourth Parliament.

Adv Simelane said that he could not give any indication of this.

Mr Singh said that in December 2001, SCOPA had recommended an independent forensic investigation to “conclude, once and for all” the allegations of corruption. The question was whether that objective had been met, nearly ten years down the line.

The Chairperson pointed out that the Joint Investigating Team report had led to criminal investigations.

Mr Thobejane agreed that this matter had been in the public domain for a long time, and there were public perceptions. He said that he sensed some impatience in some Members. He warned that the Committee should not start to “politick” at this stage but that the presenters should be allowed to go and do their work.

Mr Thobejane said that the documents handed to Mr Godi were handed to him in his capacity as Chairperson of the Committee, and should be handed over to Members.

Mr M Mbili (ANC) agreed with this. Mr Pretorius was certainly aware that they had been handed over, and he thought the DA had a copy. He did not think that this was fair. The Committee must act in unison, and there should not be any self-interest promotion of any individuals.

The Chairperson said that he disagreed with the view of Mr Thobejane, but this would be discussed later.

Ms Muthambi commented that she did not think that it was possible for one prosecutor or investigator to deal with the matter. The matter was likely to drag on for years at this rate.

Mr Maynier suggested that there was actually “foot-dragging” in that one investigator was appointed, paper was being shuffled and the DPCI were waiting for directions. He asked what DPCI and the NPA needed to get them moving.

Mr Malale said that answers had already been given, and Mr Maynier was trying to draw blood from a stone. The purpose of the meeting was to get a report, and it had been given. There should not be any impression that this Committee did not have confidence in the NPA and DPCI, and should express its view that it trusted the DPCI and should not take a decision on the allegations of foot-dragging. 

Mr Steele said that he would not like to comment on the issue of votes of confidence being issued by the Committee.

Mr Steele read out a passage from the Report of the Auditor-General, to the effect that there were in excess of 50 allegations, most of which related to corruption and conflict of interest. He noted that the DSO (at that time) had concentrated on criminal allegations that were then ongoing and that would be finalised. Mr Steele said that the 50 allegations at that time had now dropped to two, which were still ongoing. He asked what had happened to the other 48 matters, as no report was given on whether they had been dismissed or resolved.

The Chairperson said during the engagement with the NPA the previous year, it had dealt with that question and it was not necessary to go back to them. The purpose of today’s meeting, as earlier stated, was to get a report on the BEA and GFC matters.

Mr Steele said that he was not expecting an answer now, but did want a report as to which of the cases had been dismissed or resolved.

The Chairperson said that in the normal course of the Committee’s work, these were valid questions. However, the presenters had been given a limited brief, and the report requested by Mr Steele was not appropriate in the focused nature of this forum.

The Chairperson noted that the outstanding issue was the ability to get information from the other countries. This was raised as an outstanding issue earlier in the year, and there seemed not to have been any movement on this, nor was there any indication on how long the Committee must wait for this report. He would like the Committee to be given some sense of the timeframes. He understood that the Director General of the Department of Justice would be liaising. Without cooperation the matter would reach stalemate.

The Chairperson excused the presenters from the meeting.

Ms Matladi referred to the earlier exchange between herself and the ANC Members following her remark that they were “squealing”. She noted that she had somehow missed that the Committee would, at this meeting, be speaking directly and solely to the two investigations of BEA and GFC. It had not been her intention to cause any “undue excitement” at this meeting.

The Chairperson asked for comment on how the matter should proceed.

Mr Steele proposed that the same agencies should be called back in six months time for a further progress report, together, perhaps, with the Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ).

The Chairperson said that it was not usual that there should be continuous public reports when DPCI or SAPS were investigating a matter. He thought that perhaps the DOJ , and should keep doing that.

The Chairperson said that it was not usual that when DPCI or SAPS were investigating a matter, there should be constant public reports on the matter. He thought that perhaps the DOJ should be asked to give written submissions and a report, because the hold up seemed to be in getting the MLA, which was processed by that Department.

Mr Singh reminded Members that the 2001 recommendations of SCOPA, which were adopted by the House, had included that this Committee should “interact, on an ongoing basis with the relevant departments… to monitor proper implementation of the recommendations”. In addition to what the Chairperson was suggesting, he though that this should be followed.

The Chairperson reminded him that in 2008 a number of departments had been asked to submit progress reports on those SCOPA recommendations. They did so, and the Committee had been satisfied with the submissions by Department of Public Service and Administration, the Public Service Commission, Department of Defence and the National Treasury. The Committee had believed that Department of Trade and Industry must give a further report, which it did. NPA had submitted a similar report to that given today. The Committee had therefore followed up. It was currently the MLA that was outstanding.

The Chairperson then discussed the issue around the documents, following up on Mr Thobejane’s concerns. He said that Mr Crawford Browne had also given copies of the documents to other people of his own choosing. These documents were part of the Court application, and were public documents. When Mr Crawford-Browne had telephoned Mr Godi to tell him that he wanted him to have the documents, Mr Godi could not very well refuse. It was a pity that Mr Crawford-Browne had not submitted a covering letter, but he had indicated that he wanted Mr Godi to have the documents personally. If the documents were addressed to the Committee, he would certainly have made them available, as also if he had thought that they would have been of particular assistance to the Committee.

Mr Steele confirmed that the documents were in the public domain, and the DPCI presenters had confirmed, as they were leaving, that the documents were also handed to them.

Mr Pretorius wished to stress that he had not seen the document in advance of the meeting. Mr Crawford-Browne had asked him if he had received a copy and had handed it to him.

Mr Thobejane said that he did not necessarily agree with the Chairperson’s assessment. He thought that Mr Godi was receiving the information in his capacity as Chairperson and therefore should have passed them on, as the Committee Members were collectively responsible to the public.

The Chairperson agreed that this point could be debated, but said that in general, information relevant to Committee Members would be made available to them.

Mr Malale agreed that information should be shared, and said that Mr Crawford-Browne may have preferred to hand the information to someone he knew.

Mr Mbili thought that the Committee should perhaps reflect on this and debate it further.

He added that the Committee must try to work through the sensitive matters to get closure on the Arms Deal.

Other Committee business
Committee Workshop
The Chairperson noted that permission had not been granted to hold the workshop outside Parliament, and it would be held in Parliament. There would be presentations by the Special Investigating Unit and Institute of Internal Auditors, also an engagement with the Auditor-General and National Treasury.

Members asked that perhaps a more spacious venue should be found.

Association of Public Accounts Committees’ Constitution
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had been asked to make input into the Association of Public Accounts Committees’ constitution.

Mr Singh noted that Members of this Committee served on the Management Committee and they should perhaps deal with it.

The Chairperson suggested that Public Accounts Committees of municipalities should be able to become associate members, as they may not be able to pay the full fee, but needed to access the training. Clearly, not all municipalities could become full members as they would then swamp APAC. He suggested wording to two separate clauses that they “may” become associate members, but that if they did so, then they should pay an associate members’ fee.

Members agreed that the subcommittee would be meeting on Friday, and could then produce a draft for circulation and Members could meet on a day before the conference to decide what amendments to propose.

Outstanding matters
Mr Singh noted that the Committee had not yet had a chance to look at the SABC Special Investigation Report.

The Chairperson agreed that the Committee should look at where and how it could find the time to deal with this.

Mr Maynier asked when the hearing with Minister Sisulu and the Department of Defence was likely to occur.

The Chairperson noted that the political impasse had not yet been resolved, because the processes to put the engagements in motion seemed to have ground to a halt, although there were commitments to follow up on this. The hearing would not be finalised before the Committee started its new cycle.

In answer to Mr Maynier’s further question whether the Annual Report would be dealt with this year, he added that this had been raised in the Management Committee meeting, although the Committee had not exercised its mind on this. All Group 1 reports, with the exception of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, had been finalised. This was a challenge. He was not sure whether the report for that department had come in, but it might be that the new report might well be considered without first considering the 2008/09 report, or that the two engagements must be combined.

Mr Pretorius wondered if a formal letter should be written to the Speaker to note SCOPA’s concerns.

The Chairperson thought that this might not be the best response. Perhaps the Committee had erred in following the route it did. It should perhaps write to the Chief Whip’s office to outline the position.

Mr Maynier pointed out that the Portfolio Committee on Defence had not managed to deal with seven out of the eight programmes in the Annual Report. He thought that if SCOPA wanted to follow the institutional route, it could consider summoning and compelling the Minister to appear before this Committee.

The Chairperson said that the issue was not that the Minister was refusing to appear. The Committee was rather concerned that her office had only sent a letter, and perhaps there had been some misinterpretation on this. He thought that there should be communication with the Chief Whip’s office, although in hindsight that route may have led the committee to a dead end before.

Mr Steele said that the DA would not endorse writing to the Chief Whip, but to the Speaker, and would prefer that the institutional route would have to be followed. 

The Chairperson said that no objections had previously been raised when he had reported on the matter before. At this stage, it might be difficult to move this matter over to the Speaker’s Office, as it would need to be raised as a new matter. If the commitments made had been followed, then this should have been finalised.

Mr Pretorius noted that Ms N Gasa, ex-Chairperson of the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), had walked out of a SCOPA meeting without giving her evidence.

The Chairperson noted that SCOPA had continued with the hearing and had been told that there was an investigation that was almost completed, which would confirm some of the elements that the Auditor-General had reported. If criminal proceedings were to follow, then those processes should be left to run their course. If not, then perhaps the Committee should engage with the CGE to hear what processes it was following.

The meeting was adjourned.


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: