Arms deal court case delayed

2011-05-05 12:45

Johannesburg - An application for the Constitutional Court to compel President Jacob Zuma to order a commission of inquiry into a controversial arms deal spluttered to a halt on Thursday.

This was because the president decided to focus on the legal technical aspect of retired banker Terry Crawford-Browne's application for direct access to the court and did not file an affidavit responding to factual claims in the application.

The court also heard that the last refusal in 2008 to appoint a commission, by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, was due to an ongoing investigation by the now defunct Scorpions.

There is currently no investigation into aspects of the multi-billion rand deal which at one point saw Zuma himself facing a trial for corruption for allegedly receiving a bribe from arms company Thint - allegedly facilitated by his now paroled former financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

The judges said it would be unfair to decide the case based only on facts presented by Crawford-Browne and became irritable at the idea of a postponement so that Zuma could file an affidavit replying to the factual allegations.

Zuma's counsel Marumo Moerane said that they responded according to directions sent by the court.

But Crawford-Browne's counsel Paul Hoffman and the judges rejected this, saying earlier directions should have alerted the president to the problem.

Eventually it was decided to adjourn briefly for an application for postponement to be prepared.