Photo © Kate Stegeman
On the evening of Wednesday 7 February 2018, the members of the panel presented their preliminary findings and recommendations following five days of testimony at the first People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime in South Africa at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.
The panel thanked the organising committee and the witnesses and whistleblowers who presented extensive verbal and written evidence related to three inter-related aspects of economic crime and corruption from South Africa’s past and present.
The panel noted that the Tribunal had presented strong evidence that the failure to address the economic crimes and sanctions-busting activity from the apartheid era in part explained the illicit activities later in the Arms Deal and in contemporary state capture.
The Tribunal focused on joining the dots between three distinct eras in South Africa’s history and allegations of corruption and economic crime therein. These were the late apartheid era under the compulsory UN arms embargo, the 1999 Arms Deal, and contemporary allegations of state capture. Addressing each in turn, the panel made the following key findings and recommendations, in their own words:
“There is in our view enough evidence to warrant at least a thorough investigation into the conduct of a number of entities including the French government and the Kredietbank. They co-operated with the apartheid system, ensuring the unlawful flow of arms and ammunition and facilitating payment through a labyrinth of devious structures and routes.”
“These purchases were made in order to facilitate money making for corrupt people, including politicians. This, in our view was the real purpose of the decision. The purpose was illegitimate. The decision to enter into the Arms Deal therefore must have been irrational. There is also, in our view, enough evidence to raise the strong suspicion that cabinet ministers and others in the state machinery were involved in these operations and gained considerably for themselves.”
“We have had access to persuasive circumstantial evidence that Denel and a number of associated companies were manipulated so that, as state owned enterprises, they did not perform their functions solely for the public benefit – as should have been the case. We recommend a full investigation by relevant authorities.”
“We would also emphasise that state capture is to some extent also a result of the corrupt activities that had gone before it. Absent the violation of United Nations sanctions, and the corrupt Arms Procurement Package, the kind of state capture described in the evidence would probably not have occurred. The examples of state capture mentioned here are the tip of the ice-berg.”
All implicated parties will now be provided with the relevant evidence and copies of submissions and these preliminary findings. They will be given three months to respond. Following this, the panel will inform the Tribunal if and when it will provide a full written report.