When a commission of inquiry into any matter is assembled, one expects that that commission will go through all the evidence and leave no stone unturned in its search for the truth. When it comes to matters of national interest, the expectations are higher that the investigation will be thorough and transparent.
In November 2011, President Jacob Zuma instructed the Arms Procurement Commission to look for any irregularities and evidence of wrong-doing surrounding the arms deal. Not much about the investigation into the R 70 billion arms deal scandal has been transparent.
City Press reported some rather disturbing facts about the commission of inquiry into the arms deal. There has been speculation that if all the material information about the arms deal was revealed, politicians in powerful positions would be implicated. Many believe that this is the reason that the commission has faced numerous challenges since it was formed.
According to the City Press exposé on Sunday, the HAWKS are in possession of shipping containers full of documents which are directly relevant to the arms deal investigation. Independent sources confirmed that the HAWKS hold almost 5 million pages of evidence. This includes documentation acquired by the SCORPIONS before they were disbanded. From this batch of hard-copy evidence, only a quarter has been digitally saved. Though the scanned documents were handed over to the commission of inquiry, no one has bothered to index them. Also, they have not been declassified.
This means that the commission of inquiry is holding hearings without having utilized the opportunity to scrutinize all the documents. This is not the norm in any type of enquiry. The evidence is housed in three containers on the grounds of the HAWKS headquarters. Members of the commission have always known about the containers but are willing to proceed even though the information held in the rest of the documents has not been considered.
The commission has been plagued by curious resignations including those of attorney Norman Moabi and Justice Malesela Francis Legodi. Moabi stepped down from the commission at the beginning of the year. He claimed that the evidence provided to the commission was excessively controlled and managed. He believes that this is meant to protect senior leaders of the ANC including President Jacob Zuma.
The sealed documents are rumoured to pertain to the dealings of BAe, Futuristic Business Solutions and Daimler Aerospace SA among others. Fana Hlongwane’s name keeps cropping up. He was the adviser to former Defence Minister Joe Modise. The authorities in the United Kingdom are convinced that Hlongwane received R 65 million from BAe. BAe pioneered that consortium that was eventually awarded the arms contract. The Serious Fraud Office has evidence that Hlongwane was the middleman and that once he received the money, he distributed it among all those who benefited from the shady deal.
Neither the Arms Procurement Commission nor the HAWKS have been available for comment after this report became public knowledge.