It was a bruising day for many significant reputations at the People's Tribunal on Economic Crime in Johannesburg on Monday. Lawyer Ajay Sooklal, formerly known as Witness X, took to the stand and implicated two former French Presidents, President Jacob Zuma and a range of notable politicians in the infamous Arms Deal. But he didn't get off that lightly himself, either. Which raises a couple of uncomfortable questions. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
"While it's undeniable that Sooklal should have spoken up sooner," Tweeted Right2Know's Murray Hunter on Monday afternoon, "the reality is, in a process where so few have found their voices, we gain nothing from dragging those who do through SUCH a painful cross-examination. Will future whistle-blowers be willing to come forward?"
Sooklal, a lawyer who had had close ties both to senior members of the ANC and people involved in the arms deal, made several allegations implicating powerful corporates and senior local and international politicians.
Among these - though some of the evidence was already known via the Seriti Commission - were the following allegations:
That Thales (formerly Thompson-CSF) had promised Jacob Zuma an annual payment of R500,000 in exchange for protection against investigation into their conduct...