Between 1996 and 1999 the South Africa government commissioned the purchase of R30 billion worth of armaments specifically submarines and frigates from a French-German consortium and Fighter-jets from a British-Swedish consortium in order to retain an effective defense capability. This decision was based on an extensive review the whole country had undertaken to determine the kind of National Defence Force the country needs.The resultant Defence Review was presented to the National Assembly and was supported by all parties in parliament.
The then PAC leader Patricia de Lille who is currently the mayor of the City of Cape Town became a whistleblower and claimed in Parliament that a number of senior ANC people had received kickbacks from some of the international companies that bid for the arms contracts. She presents a dossier and demands a commission of inquiry. She later gave the dossier to the special investigation unit led by then judge Willem Heath and testifies on Schabir Shaik trial.
After the parliamentary watchdog Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the auditor-general report in 2000 concerning the possibility of corruption in the Strategic Defence Procurement deal, there was a call for investigation.In 2000 SCOPA recommended that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) headed by Judge Willem Heath form part of a joint investigation team to probe the arms deal. This was later refused by President Thabo Mbeki on the bases of the Constitutional Court ruling that Judge Heath’s mandate is not appropriate in the SIU as a judge. However, a joint investigation into the arms deal comprising the public protector, Selby Baqwa, the auditor-general and national prosecutor Bulelani Ngcuka looked into the arms deal in 2000.
In October 2000 it emerged from the Department of Defence’s head of acquisitions, Chippy Shaik and the government’s chief negotiator, Jay Naidoo that the arms deal would cost R43.8bn, R13.8bn more than the initial approve cost.
A joint investigation into the arms deal was presented to Parliament in 2001 and implicated former defence minister Joe Modise and Chippy Shaik but found that there were no grounds to believe that government had acted "illegally or improperly". Since there has been a huge controversy surround the “Arms Deal” until recently.
The Arms Procurement Commission.
In September 2011 President Jacob Zuma announced the arms deal enquiry into the multi-billion Rand arms deal which took place in 1999, and names three judges (Judge Francis Legodi, Justice Thekiso Musi and Judge Willie Seriti) to serve on the commission which is chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Willie Seriti. Judge Francis Legodi resigned before the commission began its inquiry and President Jacob Zuma announced that the Arms Procurement Commission would continue with only two commissioners. Judge Willie Seriti is presiding over the Commission with Justice Thekiso Musi as the second commissioner. Besides the resignation of Judge Francis Legodi the commission was also hit by the resignation of Judge Willem Van Der Merwe; investigator Norman Moabi and legal researcher Kate Painting.
The commission in which high profiles like former President Thabo Mbeki and Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel are expected to testify began its work on August 2013.