Seriti Commission Failed To Test Arms Deal Witnesses, Court

Seriti Commission
Businessman Schabir Shaik (C) leaves the Durban High court on 26 July 2005. Picture: AFP/EWN

The High Court has found that the Seriti commission of inquiry’s approach to critical witnesses was a complete failure to test the veracity of the evidence available to it and to execute its mandate as required.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo handed down a stinging rebuke of his brother Judge Willie Seriti’s handling of the investigation of the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.

Seriti’s report and findings have on Wednesday been reviewed and set aside.

Civil society organisations Corruption Watch and the Right2Know campaign brought an application to have the commission of inquiry into the controversial arms deal reviewed and set aside.

Mlambo said the commission accepted the evidence of implicated parties without question.

“The manner in which the evidence leader and members of the commission approached critical witnesses, particularly Mr Schabir Shaik and Advocate [Fana] Hlongwane, exhibited a complete failure to rigorously test the witness by putting questions to them with the required open and enquiring mind.”

He criticised Seriti’s approach to witnesses: “The second respondent, who was the chairperson of the commission, adopted a position that the evidence given by what we are referring to as non-critical witnesses were known facts and the evidence was given by critical witnesses such as Dr Jan were theories.”

The Seriti commission cost taxpayers more than R130 million.

EWN