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At first glance, the public hearings on the arms deal, due to start in Pretoria next week, appear to be a good thing. The government will be bringing into the open one of the most damaging sagas since 1994. And the public will be given an opportunity to judge for themselves why " and how improperly " R50-billion was spent on a sophisticated defence package. Unfortunately, if one probes a little further, the hearings have few redeeming features. Instead they appear to be the result of anything from sloppy legal thinking to a sinister exercise to sabotage the main criminal investigation.