Arms deal documents still secret

Ernest Mabuza

FORMER ANC MP Andrew Feinstein yesterday questioned how the truth about the 1999 R30-billion arms deal could be revealed if vital information remained hidden from the public.

Feinstein made this remark after Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) declined to cross-examine former Trade and Industry minister Alec Erwin at the Arms Procurement Commission because vital documents central to his testimony, including arms deal contracts, had not been made available to its legal team. LHR is representing Feinstein and arms deal researchers Hennie van Vuuren and Paul Holden.

Commission chairman Judge Willie Seriti yesterday excused Erwin and said no one wanted to cross-examine him. However, LHR attorney David Cote said its clients wanted to cross- examine Erwin but required access to crucial documents, including the arms deal contracts, in order to do so.

Cote said its refusal to cross-examine formed part of increasing frustrations about a lack of access to crucial documents required to be declassified.

“If the commission is to be successful in its mandate, these documents need to be brought to light and roleplayers made to answer to them,” Feinstein said.

Marumo Moerane SC, for Erwin, said efforts to recall him later to testify would be strenuously opposed. The commission continues on Monday.


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