The Economic Freedom Fighters said Judge Willie Seriti, who chaired the commission of inquiry into the controversial arms deal and those who appointed him, must be held liable for the costs after his findings were overturned by the high court in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Corruption Watch and Right2Know brought an application to set aside the findings of the commission which both organisations argued misled the public by exonerating politicians and public servants.

The EFF said it would be an insult not hold Seriti liable for costs after the inquiry racked up a bill of almost R140 million, and still failed to make adverse findings on people who were implicated.

The party said it was unacceptable that the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, was held personally liable for costs in some matters she was handling, while those in the Seriti Commission “deliberately” failed to perform their mandate, but were exempted from paying.

“We have therefore instructed our lawyers to look into whether it will be possible or advisable to approach the courts to protect the rights of the public, by demanding consistency on the part of the judiciary,” the party said in a statement.

The party said it would also seek legal advice on reviewing the findings following the commission of inquiry into the Marikana killings.

When handing down judgment in Wednesday’s matter, Judge President Dustan Mlambo slammed the manner in which the commission’s evidence leaders approached key witnesses, particularly Chippy Shaik and Fana Hlongwane, saying they displayed “a complete failure to rigorously test the versions of these witnesses”.

The commission was announced in 2011, two years into Jacob Zuma’s tenure as president. Zuma’s establishment of the Commission is widely considered to have been done under duress, and the commission itself was dogged by allegations of bias, exclusion of witnesses, and a flood of senior staff resignations.

The mandate of the commission was to investigate allegations of large-scale bribery and corruption in the multi-billion rand military acquisition project which was finalised in 1999, during former President Thabo Mbeki’s tenure.

The commission found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Cabinet of the day or any government official.

African News Agency (ANA)

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