Bahai News - Deputy who blew whistle on arms deals reports death threats

Deputy who blew whistle on arms deals reports death threats

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 20 (AFP) -

The first South African parliamentarian to raise the alarm about corruption in a multi-billion arms deal said Saturday she would be beefing up her security after receiving death threats.

Patricia de Lille, a deputy for the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), told a media briefing in Pretoria that she had received death threats regarding her demand for a thorough investigation into the government's arms procurement deal.

"I'm more concerned about my family than myself... but people must just know that taking me out will not stop this," De Lille declared.

"The information that I have I don't have it alone, many other people have the same information," he said, declining to name the the people in question.

De Lille was the first to warn of corruption in the arms deal six months ago, alleging in Parliament that a number of politicians from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) had received kickbacks from foreign arms consortium.

Following this she gave the country's leading anti-corruption watchdog -- Judge Willem Heath's Special Investigations Unit -- a series of documents relating to the affair.

Rejecting immense public pressure to include Heath's organization in the arms probe, President Thabo Mbeki announced Friday that he was excluding the unit, on constitutional grounds.

De Lille said she had raised allegations of corruption in the country's interest and had wanted Heath's unit to help investigate the claims for the same reason.

PAC President Stanley Mogoba confirmed Saturday that the PAC -- possibly with support from other parties -- would take legal action to challenge Mbeki's decision in the Cape High Court.

The PAC accused the president of ignoring recommendations for Heath's involvement from a key parliamentary committee and the state's legal experts. De Lille said the executive had violated the Constitution by ignoring the wishes and recommendations of Parliament.

She further accused the African National Congress of placing the interests of the party before those of the nation.

Meanwhile a delegation of religious leaders -- of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i Assembly and Hindu communities -- urged Mbeki at a meeting Friday to ensure that the probe remains transparent.

"Whether unfounded or not, the public perception exists that a cover-up is being shaped, that our democratic institutions are being undermined, that mischievous and misleading forces may be at work and that correct procedures could have been flouted," the South African Council of Churches (SACC) said in a statement.


©Copyright 2001, Agence France-Presse

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