The City Press has reported that Denel is forging ahead with a Gupta partnership worth billions, despite finance minister Pravin Gordhan saying it is illegal.
According to the report, Denel has awarded the contract for the cutting of steel for its new vehicles to VR Laser, a Gupta-linked company.
VR Laser is also in a joint venture with Denel Asia – a deal which City Press said was concluded in January.
Denel spokesperson Pam Malinda confirmed that Denel would be responsible for the construction of 238 Badger vehicles, while VR Laser would do the steel cutting.
She said VR Laser is a steel-cutting specialist, and that Denel followed the necessary procedures to award the contract to the company.
Project Hoefyster, the name given to the production of 238 infantry combat vehicles for the South African National Defence Force, is no stranger to controversy.
In 2013, DA MP David Maynier said the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, must not be allowed to cover up the cost of the 238 combat vehicles.
“At a Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans meeting, on 6 November 2013, the Defence Department refused point-blank to reply to any questions about the cost of Project Hoefyster,” said Maynier.
He said the total cost of the 238 vehicles being acquired was not known, but was estimated to be R10 billion.
“This means that each Badger infantry combat vehicle could cost approximately R42.5 million,” said Maynier.
Denel Land Systems said it designed and manufactured the Badger to meet the requirements of a modern army involved in both high-intensity warfare and peace-keeping operations.
The modular combat vehicle is a platform originally developed by Finnish defence contractor Patria, and has been optimised by Denel in order to meet the needs of the South African Army.