Judge Willie Seriti's response to the allegations made by Norman Moabi was a failed attempt at damage control. His comments are likely to erode rather than restore public trust in the Arms Procurement Commission.
Judge Seriti dismissed the allegations as an attempt to "deliberately tarnish the image and credibility of the commission" motivated primarily by resentment and a personal grudge.
The key allegation made by Mr Moabi was that the Arms Procurement Commission was pursuing a "second agenda" which was presumably to cover up the truth about the arms deal by attempting to discredit certain witnesses.
In response, Judge Seriti states inter alia that if there was a "secret agenda" it would have been contained in a document prepared by the Commission, entitled "Preliminary Strategy", which was circulated on or about 06 November 2012.
With respect, this makes no sense and is not the level of argument one would expect from a senior judge.
If there is a secret agenda, it would hardly be laid bare in an official Commission strategy document.
Judge Seriti is going to have to do better than this if he is going to restore public confidence in the Commission.
Moreover, Judge Seriti missed an opportunity to issue a comprehensive public statement dealing with all the allegations that have diminished public trust in the Commission, including:
very long delays experienced in initially setting up the commission;
the departure of evidence leaders Advocate 'Vas' Soni and Advocate 'Sticks' Mdlala;
the appointment of Riena Charles, who was acquitted of fraud and corruption charges, as a legal investigator;
the secondment of staff from state departments, including the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, to the commission; and
doubts as to how it would be possible for the Commission to complete its work and deliver a final report within its 24-month lifespan.
It is also concerning that, with less than six weeks to go before the public hearings are scheduled to begin, key witnesses, who will be required to provide evidence, have not received summonses and have not heard from the commission.
This Commission was established by the President to get to the bottom of alleged Arms Deal corruption. Its independence needs to be beyond question and its processes need to be professional.
Previous investigations into the Arms Deal were whitewashed. We cannot allow this to happen again.
David Maynier, Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans