Questions about SA rifle sale to Turkmenistan

2014-09-10 12:32
(File, Brennan Linsley, AP)

(File, Brennan Linsley, AP)

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Cape Town - The DA wants an explanation for why South Africa sold 50 sniper rifles to Turkmenistan, a country widely criticised internationally for its human rights abuses.

"I will ask National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) chair Jeff Radebe to order an investigation into... the sale of 50 sniper rifles, worth R5.2m, to Turkmenistan, one of the most repressive regimes in the world," Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said in a statement.

The sale was revealed in the NCACC's second quarterly report, which covers the period 1 April to 30 June this year.

Turkmenistan, which broke away from the former Soviet Union in 1991, is located on the eastern side of the Caspian Sea in Central Asia. It is rich in natural gas and oil.

Maynier quoted from this year's Human Rights Watch's world report, which describes the country as closed to independent scrutiny, with its citizens subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights activists under constant threat of government reprisal.

"The government continues to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation."

Maynier said the sale of sniper rifles to Turkmenistan was not the first controversial sale of such weapons.

"The NCACC authorised the sale of approximately 100 sniper rifles and more than 50 000 [bullets] to Libya in 2010."

He said the latest quarterly report also revealed "other highly-questionable conventional arms sales".

These included the sale of 13 armoured combat vehicles, worth R44.4m, to Equatorial Guinea, and the sale of "two airborne observation systems", worth R16.6m, to the Russian Federation.

"I will, therefore, request [chairperson] Radebe to order the committee's inspectorate to conduct a full-blown investigation into [these] sales," Maynier said.

Read more on:    da  |  david maynier  |  arms  |  military

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