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.

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Fact SheetsPress StatementsCoverage in the MediaJSC ComplaintSeriti Commission TimelineGauteng High Court JudgementReferral of Complaint to the Judical Conduct Committee

In 2019, Corruption Watch and R2K received notice, that all opposition to the application by the Presidency and government departments was being withdrawn.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.

Open Secrets and Shadow World Investigations have since laid a complaint with the Chief Justice as the Chair of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). The complaint asks the Chief Justice to refer Judge Willie Seriti and Judge Hendrick Musi to the JSC because of their failure to investigate the Arms Deal during the life of the Seriti Commission. The complaint also asks the Chief Justice 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 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 (Shadow World Investigations) 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.

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.

fact sheets

press statements