the arms deal and the seriti commission

This page serves as an information portal on the 1999 arms deal and the Seriti Commission charged with investigating the allegations of corruption in the deal. The Commission released its final findings on the 15th of December 2015. The refusal to review the evidence and the lack of accountability for corruption led Corruption Watch and Right to Know (R2K) to file an application to review the commission in October 2016.

The Gauteng High Court is set to reveal its findings on the 21 August 2019.

The Commission of Inquiry into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP) otherwise known as the Seriti Commission was tasked with investigating whether there were any irregularities or corruption in the award of the Arms Deal contracts. Moreover, the commission was tasked with assessing whether the Deal was rational and whether the economic benefits that were due to flow from the deal materialised.

Chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, the Commission was criticised for impartiality,  failing to hold those accused of corruption accountable by ignoring key evidence and not subpoenaing those accused like Jacob Zuma and not giving witnesses, access to documents. In response three ‘critic witnesses, Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden (Corruption Watch UK) and Open Secrets’ director, Hennie Van Vuuren, announced that they were withdrawing all participation from the Commission in protest at the way it was conducting itself.

The Seriti Commission’s final report was full of inaccuracies, contradictions and logical inconsistencies. Consequently, civil society groups R2K & Corruption Watch also view the Commission’s final findings as a whitewash. In October 2016, Corruption Watch (CW) and R2K filed an application at the North Gauteng High Court. CW and R2K asked that the High Court set aside the findings of the Commission.

In 2019, CW and R2K were surprised to receive a notice, after nearly two years, that all opposition to the application by the Presidency and government departments was being withdrawn. This means that CW and R2K’s application would not be challenged and that it would, as a matter of course, be granted a default judgment.

The final report of the People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime was released on the 20th of September 2018, the report states there is sufficient evidence that cabinet ministers were involved in suspicious operations throughout the Arms Deal. However, the report, does not make comment regarding the Seriti Commission as its findings were being taken on judicial review at the time of its release.

gauteng high court judgement on the seriti commission review application

seriti commission timeline

press statements