The Arms Deal in Your Pocket, written by Paul Holden and first published in October 2008, is a detailed analysis of why and how the arms deal has become the poisoned well of South African politics. The plethora of newspaper articles, court cases, conspiracy theories and counter-allegations surrounding the deal still leaves many scratching their heads. This book aims to clear the confusion. It starts at the roots and works its way to the present, telling the story in the simplest way possible. From what was bought, why it was bought, and what it cost: all of these are explained in a book that can be read within a day. The book is available at Amazon.com or Kalahari.net.
The arms deal investigation had been going on for 10 years now, and the prospects that it will be finalized soon look very slim indeed! The disbanding of the Scorpions, in July 2009, is without a doubt the main reason why there are delays in the investigation, but the ANC Government will never admit this.
The ANC’s kingpin, Anwar Dramat, was appointed as the head of a new unit (The Hawks) which replaced the Scorpions. The following news report released today deals with Dramat’s excuses why he has been unable to finalize the matter. If I were his boss I would have fired him long ago!
Arms deal probe proves costly
It could take between five and 10 years and cost up to R10-million to investigate allegations that top South African officials raked in nearly R500-million in kickbacks from German and British companies implicated in the arms deal scandal.
The head of the Hawks, Lieutenant-General Anwar Dramat, and National Prosecuting Authority boss Menzi Simelane were briefing Parliament's standing committee on public accounts yesterday on progress made in regard to the two remaining arms deal probes, involving British Aerospace Systems and the German Frigate Consortium.
Dramat said the investigation was complex and that 460 boxes and 4,7 million documents had been seized as evidence in various countries, including Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the UK.
While MPs pushed for the state agencies to speed up the prosecution of people involved in corruption in the arms deal, the Hawks and the NPA said their probe had been hindered by a lack of co-operation from foreign countries.
Dramat told MPs that in the case of BAE Systems, R300m had allegedly been paid in kickbacks, while in the case of the German Frigate Consortium, a payment of $25m was said to have changed hands.
Dramat added that even if the German authorities co-operated, the investigation could take up to three years before it was completed and a docket handed to the NPA for a decision to prosecute.
A single prosecutor was working on the case, MPs heard.
Last year, businessman Richard Young laid a criminal charge alleging that kickbacks had been paid by the frigate consortium.
Simelane confirmed receiving the docket from the Hawks in June this year and said he was yet to assign a prosecutor to the case.
Another blow was a decision by the UK's Serious Fraud Office to enter into a plea bargain with BAE Systems early this year. Dramat said it was regrettable that the fraud office had not allowed the Hawks to be involved in the plea agreement.
But DA MP David Maynier said the arms deal investigation had been going on for 10 years and it was time it was finalised.
"We are dealing with de facto foot-dragging. There is one investigator assigned to this case.
"We have heard that there is paper shuffling between the police, the prosecuting authority and the Department of Justice in respect of co-operation agreements, and then we have Dramat sitting and saying he's waiting for direction. Why are you foot-dragging?" asked Maynier.
This article was originally published on page 7 of The Star on September 09, 2010