South Africa: Mystery of SA's Missing R1.2 Billion Satellite

Photo: NASA
Satellite (file photo).

Johannesburg — Mystery surrounds a deal struck eight years ago between South Africa and a Russian company for a R1.2 billion satellite, Sunday Times reported.

It was unclear whether the satellite, of a kind often used for espionage, existed.

According to the report, the South African government signed a contact for the satellite with Russian company Mashinostroyenia in May 2006.

The company reportedly wrote a letter to government in 2008 complaining that payments were not received and then-defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota had frozen the contract.

In 2011, a letter from then-defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu to then-technology minister Naledi Pandor indicated the contract had been transferred to Pandor's department.

Pandor, Sisulu and Lekota could not provide information to the newspaper this week. The department of state security also declined to comment.

Defence spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said the project was classified, but would have been audited by the Auditor-General's office and discussed by the joint standing committee on intelligence.

The committee's 2009 annual report referred to an investigation into "a sensitive project of defence intelligence" which had been finalised, and a report on this made to then-president Kgalema Motlanthe. The content of the report has not been made public.

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InFocus

Missing S Africa Satellite Costs R1.2bn

Satellite (file photo).

Mystery surrounds a deal struck eight years ago between South Africa and a Russian company for a satellite dubbed "Project Flute". Read more »