De Lille drops bombshell over arms deal

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

After a relative lull over the government's controversial multi-billion-rand arms deal, the issue returned to Parliament with a bang yesterday.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille told stunned MPs: "I can now confirm that on January 29 1999 the following organisations each received R500000 from Thyssen-Krupp: the ANC, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, and the Community Development Foundation."

Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, is a founder of the Foundation for Community Development, which is based in Mozambique. "The money was paid into an account in Switzerland at Credit Swiss First Boston Bank," De Lille said.

Nelson Mandela Children Fund's spokesman Boitumelo Mdwaba rejected De Lille's claims. Machel is in Mozambique, but her personal assistant said questions would be passed on to her.

Defence Minister Mosioua Lekota, the ANC chairman, said: "Is she saying that Comrade Nelson Mandela, the former president of this country, was a crook who plotted to steal money through the strategic defence programme? . I reject with contempt these assertions."

De Lille said the government's failure to probe all the allegations surrounding the arms deal had resulted in the German and UK authorities unearthing new evidence.