Radebe: Arms sales to Libya legal

2011-02-26 10:00

Cape Town - South African arms sales to Libya were done strictly in accordance with the law, Justice Minister and National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) chairman Jeff Radebe said on Friday.

"Some in the media or through the use of media as a platform have been quick to conclude that the deaths that have been reported in Libya during the period of political unrest have a direct link with the arms sold by the South African companies to Libya.

"There is no evidence available to back up such a claim," he said in a statement.

Earlier this week, David Maynier of the Democratic Alliance said the DA understood that "more than 100 sniper rifles and more than 50 000 rounds of ammunition may have been exported to Libya in late 2010".

Other weapons systems sold appeared to include 40mm multiple grenade launchers, Hercules C130 aircraft, and armoured personnel carriers, he said.

Radebe said that at the time the transaction was concluded with Libya, there was no evidence available to the effect that there would be any political unrest in that country.

This extended to the region - North Africa and parts of the Middle East.

"Similarly, there was no evidence that if political instability were to occur, that it would turn out violent in Libya or in any of the countries with which arms trade had been concluded."

South Africa had a legal obligation not to trade in conventional arms with states engaged in repression, aggression or terrorism.

"At the time when these transactions were concluded, there was no United Nations Security Council resolution on arms embargo against Libya or any of the other states with which we traded that are or recently have been affected by political instability."

No such position had been adopted by the African Union either.

Number of transactions concluded

In 2010, the NCACC duly authorised arms trade between South African companies operating in defence-related industry and Libya.

A number of other transactions were also considered at that time. In authorising those transactions, the NCACC applied the guiding principles and criteria set out in terms of the NCACC Act.

All decisions taken by the NCACC were preceded by investigations undertaken by the subcommittees established in terms of the Act.

These subcommittees had a legal duty to report to and advise the NCACC on matters that related to its business, including the arms trade, he said.

"In this way we can confidently indicate that in all transactions that were undertaken and concluded with Libya, we had satisfied ourselves, through a meticulous process, that there was compliance with the guiding principles and the criteria laid down in our law.

"As we have said in the past, in making decisions the NCACC considers in aggregate, all principles reflected in our legislation. No single principle is considered in isolation of the others."

Radebe accused the DA of seeing the wave of political instability that had hit a number of North African and Middle East countries as an opportunity to gain political mileage at the expense of government.

- SAPA
Read more on:    jeff radebe  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  uprisings
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