Tell us only what you know, arms commission tells losing Arms Deal bidder

11 March 2015 - 13:33 By Ernest Mabuza

The Arms Procurement Commission has stopped electronic engineer Richard Young from reading extensively from documents which he had not authored to support his claims of corruption in the Arms Deal.

On his fourth day of giving evidence on Tuesday, Young, whose company lost out on a subcontract to equip four frigates with a combat suite, read from a document dated June 2007 that formed part of an investigation by German authorities.

In this document, allegations are made that bribes were paid to South African officials involved in the acquisition of armaments in 1999.

Young read extensively from the document, but would not divulge how he obtained it.

Commission chairman Judge Willie Seriti expressed concern that Young was relying on a document that did not belong to him to make allegations of corruption in the Arms Deal.

Seriti’s concern was that Young was reading extensively from the document but the commission had not decided whether the document should be admitted as evidence.

He was also concerned that Young was not only reading the contents of the German document into the record, but he was also interpreting the contents.

Evidence leader Tshepo Sibeko SC said by using the document Young sought to support his allegations that there was some bribery in the Arms Deal.

However legal teams representing the department of defence and the department of trade and industry asked that Young only present evidence in matters of which he has personal knowledge.

Michael Kuper SC, for the defence department, expressed concern that Young would be cross-examined on the content of documents that were not his.

“This procedure has allowed this witness to be the judge of what kind of material should be put to the commission. It has allowed this witness to publish allegations that are wide-ranging and defamatory,” Kuper said.

Marumo Moerane SC, for the ministers who comprised a Cabinet subcommittee that approved the arms deal, said the documents Young was referring to purported to be the report of an investigation by the German authorities.

“It would be useful to find out what the outcome of the investigation was,” Moerane said.

Moerane also said certain people who were mentioned in Young’s documents had given evidence before the commission but some of the allegations had not been put to the witnesses. Those who were asked about these allegations emphatically denied them.

The commission ruled that Young could testify based on his witness statement and only refer the commission to supporting documents. It said that Young should not deal with the contents of the supporting documents, but may draw to the commission’s attention to the relevant paragraphs.

In his first three days of evidence, Young testified about how his company C²I² Systems was muscled out of the contract to supply the combat suite that was to be fitted to the four frigates that were acquired for the South African Navy in 1999.