Setback for German-SA probe into bribes

MENZI Simelane's appointment as new head of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions will end any hopes of reviving a joint German-South African prosecuting agency investigation into alleged bribes paid by German warship manufacturer ThyssenKrupp in the 1999 arms deal.

When Simelane was director-general of the Justice Department, the German authorities had asked for cooperation from the department to investigate the alleged bribes.

Simelane first said he had never received their request, then that he had sent it back with questions of his own. But in February, the NPA told Parliament's standing committee on public accounts that they wanted to work directly with the German authorities in investigating the arms deal, because the Justice Department was not cooperating.

"There can be no meaningful progress with the investigation until the information in the possession of the German authorities is obtained. If the requested information from the Department of Justice is not forthcoming, then a request for mutual legal assistance will have to be directed to the German authorities," the NPA said.

The NPA report repeated the allegation that "a Department of Defence official demanded a bribe of R30million from Thyssen, which was paid into an offshore company account".

The official is widely reported in the media to be convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik's brother Chippy, who was chief of acquisitions for the Department of Defence at the time.

Chippy emigrated to Australia shortly after the news broke that he was being investigated . But he returned quietly earlier this year .