The process of the Seriti Commission, which found that there
was no evidence of corruption in the "arms deal", was flawed, the
Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.
"We know that there is a constitutional obligation to
combat corruption and to combat it, is to expose it.
"The commission was set up to find out if corrupt
activities took place in the arms deal and found that there was none. However,
the commission did not investigate properly," advocate Geoff Budlender,
SC, argued on behalf of organisations Right 2 Know (R2K) and Corruption Watch
The two civil society groups are challenging the findings of
the commission, which was set up by former president Jacob Zuma in September
Zuma appointed Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Willie Seriti
as the chairperson of the commission.
It was tasked with investigating whether there was any
improper influence in the awarding of contracts in the Strategic Defence
Procurement Package (SDPP).
This became known as the arms deal which led to the
government acquiring, among others, 25 Gripen fighter aircraft, 24 Hawk lead-in
fighter trainer aircraft for the SA Air Force, as well as frigates and
submarines for the SA Navy, News24 earlier reported.
The commission began its hearings in August 2013.
several "topics of failure" in the manner in which the commission
gathered and considered relevant material and evidence.
In his heads of argument, Budlender also stated that the
commission failed to consider two thirds of documents from the Scorpions and
"The commission received an internal hard drive
containing approximately 1.3 million pages of documents relating to the
"This was one third of the documents in the containers
which were deemed relevant to the commission's investigation. The commission
did not consider the remaining two thirds of the documents," he
In addition, the commission did not access and consider
relevant records of criminal proceedings, Budlender added. He was
referring to matters raised in the Schabir Schaik trial as well as the
investigation and criminal proceedings against Zuma.
The one-time financial advisor to Zuma was released on
medical parole on March 3 2009, after serving just more than two years of a
15-year sentence for corruption.
Shaik was convicted of two counts of corruption and one of
fraud, relating to his facilitation of a bribe, allegedly paid by a French arms
company to Zuma.
Budlender further highlighted how evidence from key
witnesses, such as advocate Fana Hlongwane and Chippy Shaik, wasn't
Both parties submitted evidence denying any wrongdoing and:
"The commission as well as its evidence leaders failed to put forward
questions or allegations to the witnesses."
The Presidency, which is one of the respondents in the
matter, is not opposing the application and further submitted that they are
"The findings are what they are," Nazieer Cassim,
SC, appearing for the Presidency, told the court.
Cassim told the court the commission failed to interrogate
evidence brought before it.
"They did not investigate the evidence.
"If this commission was serious about its functions, it
would have made serious findings about corrupt activities in the arms
deal," he submitted.
Judgment has been reserved.