Jessica Bezuidenhout | The Daily Maverick | 18 January 2019
An international arms trader, in relentless pursuit of alleged unpaid commission going back to the 1980s, now wants the Auditor General of South Africa to release apartheid-era records to boost his civil claim against the state arms procurement agency in Portugal.
The Auditor General of South Africa faces a High Court application to produce records relating to Armscor’s controversial acquisition of 50 Puma helicopters from a French armaments company more than 30 years ago.
This apartheid-era transaction has haunted the state-owned entity for decades – it is highly contentious, having been billed as an unlawful, sanctions-busting deal by the current Armscor in its fight-back against an R8-billion civil claim in Portugal.
Details of the covert deal are meticulously presented in Apartheid Guns and Money: A tale of Profit, the 2017 book by Open Secrets director, Hennie van Vuuren, whose organisation subsequently exposed alleged efforts to lobby former President Jacob Zuma for political assistance in 2010.
Now, Jorge Pinhol, the Portuguese arms trader who says he facilitated the deal before allegedly being duped out of his commission, wants access to confidential South African government records via the Auditor-General having had no luck with soft approaches for assistance over a two-year period