11 May 2021 | Media Statement | Shadow World Investigations and Open Secrets |
On 11 August 2020, non-profit organisations Shadow World Investigations and Open Secrets submitted a complaint to the Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee (of the Judicial Service Commission). The detailed complaint focused on the High Court’s damning judgment which finds that Judge Willie Seriti and Judge Hendrick Musi had failed to investigate the Arms Deal during the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Fraud, Corruption and Wrongdoing in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (known as the ‘Seriti Commission’). The complaint also asks the Judicial Conduct Committee to consider whether certain actions by Judges Seriti and Musi may constitute criminal misconduct and, if so, to refer these matters to the NPA for further action.
The organisations lodged this complaint to bolster public trust in the integrity of the Judiciary and send a strong signal that the kind of conduct that enabled a cover-up of serious crimes by the Seriti Commission should not be tolerated. The R142 billion corrupt Arms Deal (calculated in current value) has resulted in enormous social damage in South Africa – resulting in the loss of up to 1 million jobs – and enriched a small group of powerful European corporations, politicians and middlemen.
In a letter to the two organisations, dated 07 May 2021, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo (as acting chair of the Judicial Conduct Committee) has affirmed the seriousness of this complaint. He states in the letter that: “In accordance with section 16(1) of the Judicial Service Commission Act (Act 9 of 1994) (JSC Act) I am satisfied that, in the event of Shadow World Investigations and Open Secret’s complaint being established, it is likely to lead to a finding by the Judicial Service Commission that Judge Seriti and Judge Musi are guilty of gross misconduct as envisaged in section 14(4) of the JSC Act.”
The letter confirms that the matter has now been referred to the Judicial Conduct Committee who will meet on 12 June 2021 and recommend to the JSC whether the matter should be investigated and reported on by a Tribunal.
This decision is a major step as it signals the start of a process towards accountability. Both organisations welcome an opportunity to make representations to the Committee. This first step towards accountability is a further vindication of civil society’s efforts to expose cover-ups at the Seriti Commission – and the decision by civil society activists to withdraw as witnesses from the Commission.