Arms deal equipment not enough, commission hears

2013-08-22 14:20

The navy needs more equipment – in addition to what it had received in the multibillion-rand arms deal.

This was the testimony of Rear Admiral William Robert Higgs at the arms deal commission hearings in Pretoria today.

Higgs was asked by evidence leader Advocate Simmy Leballa if the navy’s capabilities are adequate at this time.

Higgs said it was very modest taking into consideration the vast sea area they have to patrol and protect.

“We need more equipment and new would of course be much better ... It would be beneficial for the country if we built the equipment in the country,” he said.

Higgs has been testifying since yesterday.

He said that there had been many discussions before it was finally decided by Parliament that it was necessary for the arms deal to go ahead.

Leballa carried on questioning the admiral on the difference it would have made if South Africa had not acquired the equipment as the country from 1994 had been battling with socioeconomic issues – “the guns-butter issues”.

But Higgs maintained that the two issues had to be balanced carefully because the navy has to protect and control the country’s resources at sea.

He added that with the navy’s capabilities there are opportunities to assist in the rest of Africa.

“If you look at our continent there is a lot of war. We can help shape events on our continent. The reality is that it’s much better for SA to play a part in resolving our own continent’s issues instead of waiting for some other country to come here,” said Higgs.

But he agreed that South Africa is the only country in Southern Africa with this level of capability.

- City Press

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