SA is selling arms to ‘most repressive regimes in world’

2014-09-11 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South Africa is illegally selling arms to countries that habitually violate the human rights of their citizens.

This is the opinion of Professor Laurie Nathan of the University of Pretoria’s Centre for ­Mediation, which was involved in drafting the National Conventional Arms Control Act 41 of 2002.

He said South Africa sold arms to countries like Turkmenistan, Russia and Equatorial Guinea — all of which had a poor history of human rights — while the act forbids arms sales to such countries.

He said it was not the first time South Africa had sold weapons to such countries.

“It is a scandal that we contribute to the deaths and destruction of people and communities, especially given our own history with apartheid,” he said.

He was reacting to the quarterly report submitted to Parliament by the national committee that implements the act.

The committee must approve each of South Africa’s weapons transactions.

The report for the last quarter showed South Africa had exported arms and weaponry valued at R547 million, and imported weapons of R67 million.

The exports include 50 sniper rifles at R5 225 500 to Turkmenistan — one of the most repressive regimes in the world, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

South Africa also exported two airborne observation systems at R16,6 million to Russia, and 13 armoured vehicles of R44,4 million to Equatorial Guinea.

DA shadow minister of defence David Maynier also said such sales were against the act, which stipulates that the committee must avoid selling conventional weapons to governments that violate human rights and suppress key freedoms.

Maynier said he would ask Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, who also chairs the committee’s inspectorate, to investigate the transactions.

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