Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pikoli hopes for arms-deal probe

Pikoli hopes for arms-deal probe

21 August, 2011 00:519
Former prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli says an independent corruption-busting unit - which the government has been ordered to create before September 2012 - could finally unravel the dirty secrets of the arms-deal scandal.
Pikoli and Sipho Pityana, the former director-general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, are spearheading a campaign under their Council for the Advancement of the Constitution for the formation of a new unit.

The council held a "red-card corruption" rally yesterday in Soweto to lobby the government to set up the unit to "investigate all acts of corruption".

Pikoli has welcomed the possibility that the Hawks - the crime-fighting unit which controversially replaced the Scorpions in 2009 - would re-open the arms-deal probe. But he said the investigation would only have limited success if it reported to politicians. The Hawks fall under the police, which are headed by General Bheki Cele.

Pityana said a "disconcerting view" was growing in the ANC "that to expose corruption is not kosher".

Last month, Hawks boss Anwar Dramat wrote to MPs saying that he had asked overseas investigators for information to "determine whether there is information which points to crime/s in South Africa".

In June, Swedish defence group SAAB admitted that its British partner, BAE Systems, paid R24-million in bribes to businessman Fana Hlongwane to secure the contract to supply 26 JAS Gripen fighter jets to South Africa.

Hlongwane got a reprieve from Pikoli's successor, Menzi Simelane, in March 2010, when Simelane ordered that the freeze on Hlongwane's Swiss bank accounts be lifted.

This week, in an interview with the Sowetan newspaper, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe implied that the constitution was getting in the way of democracy in South Africa.

"If the Constitutional Court positions itself to create a perception that it overturns anything passed by parliament, it is going to make nonsense of the democratically elected parliament," he was quoted as saying.

But Pityana said Mantashe's view represented both "an attack" on the constitution and an intolerance for criticism.

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