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.

  • lldoidge - 2011-02-26 10:06

    Legal-Yes, Ethical-No. Hope this government are proud of how those arms are being put to use!!!

      lmduplessis - 2011-02-26 10:17

      Of course they are. They're helping a friend in a time of need. Its the african way.

      Hans-Erik Iken - 2011-02-26 10:41

      I am sure that the ones taking the bullets now will be satisfied that at least they are being slaughtered by legal weapons. It must be a great comfort to them and their relatives. Just out of curiosity: when will this government stop defending its own actions domestically and condemn the blatant genocide going on in Lybia?

      whereu - 2011-02-26 10:51

      To learn that an ANC lead government has sold arms to a regime as oppressive as the Gaddafi thugs is a sad day for South Africa. I feel very sorry for ANC members who sacrificed so much to ensure a democratic and free society. My heart bleeds for them - I hope that this dark day doesn't shown that your sacrifice was in vain.

      lsmodular - 2011-02-26 11:32

      the issue of ethics is complecated and needs to be applied consistently. Asia,China products are scattered throughout the country manufactured under oppretion and under age kids, but we all use them as china export to SA is growing, The world enjoys oil from Libya. my point its more complicated.... not a simple right or wrong. its interesting that some people claim to have high moral standing than the world.

  • Introspector - 2011-02-26 10:19

    I wonder if the SA government's position on the turmoil is still "we hope they resolve it peacefully".

      lmduplessis - 2011-02-26 11:56

      they shoud add: But they should use those weapons as much as possible so we can sell them some more

      U1 - 2011-02-26 12:35

      Someone in the anc made money out of this, so it was legal. :-(

  • Sue - 2011-02-26 10:22

    Knowing what Gadaffi is like why on earth would they consider selling arms to this terrible man? Dont our government have any brains, or is it just about money? I suppose they've also sold arms to Zimbabwe, who are backing Gadaffi big time!! Shoot all the dictators they dont deserve to treat people they way they do....

      Sue - 2011-02-26 10:24

      sorry spelt Gaddafi wrong but who cares anyway....

  • Anne - 2011-02-26 10:28

    Gadaffi must leave

      Sean - 2011-02-26 23:21

      Nono Anne - Gaddaffi must die - Is it my imagination or does he look like he has the same plastic surgeon as Michael jackson?

  • besh - 2011-02-26 10:29

    @ Imduplessis ..Our constitution is the best in Africa - we know the laws to follow before we make these sales...we don.t like, wake up go to the loo and make arm sales - when it's arms, there are significant procedures boet's not like a "spaza-shop" OK ! Gaddafi has always been like Gaddafi anyway .

      roadvark - 2011-02-26 10:35

      Constitution may be the best but if the government ignores it then it is not worth the paper it is written on...just a lot of words.

      lmduplessis - 2011-02-26 11:59

      i'm sure the protesters will be THRILLED that they will probably be shot with legally and constitutionally sound weapons. Nothing like a few ounces of legality straight through the Medulla Ablongata(SP?) to make things seem all OK

  • BigMoose - 2011-02-26 10:33

    The ANC shoots its own "supporters" when they protest, so what's all the fuss about? Remember, the security forces serve the government of the day, the ANC, and act on their instructions. The scenes on eTV of the violence in Ermelo were similar to those during the apartheid era. The AU elected the megalomaniac Gaddaffi as its Chairman, not so long ago, which proves that they endorsed his dictatorial regime. Now that his country is in revolt, the AU has backtracked, but the ANC regime has kept particularly quiet about the slaughter of Libyans by their comrade, Gaddaffi. Our government sells weapons to a dictator, but is in the process of disarming law-abiding gun-owners in our own country, just in case.....

  • stefan.grundlingh - 2011-02-26 10:36

    Manufacturing and selling weapons is a touchy subject best left for experts to justify. Of bigger concern to me is the general stance taken by the SA government of 'silent' diplomacy where they are perceived to condone corrupt government leaders and human rights abuses such as the murdering of gays throughout Africa.

  • Grant - 2011-02-26 10:42

    When you tell lies, you have to be very careful in what you say on the subject for ever after, it is very easy to slip up and expose both the lie and yourself. Here are just two headlins to demonstrate! August 2009: The DA accused the government of selling arms to rogue states, including Libya. The ANC reaction was predictable with Stella Ndabeni demanding the removal of the DA's David Maynier from the Parliment Portfolio Commitee for Defence for refusing to disclose the source of his information. Deny, Deny, Deny!!! January 2010: The Auditor General finds that the Register of Permits for the International sale of arms could not be traced. On many Permits that could be found, the identity of the end-user of the supplied arms had not been filled in. Deny, Deny, Deny!!! February 2011: By making statements that the sales had been legal, the ANC exposes as lies all their responses/denials surrounding the above two bullet points at the time, all of which would take far too much space to try to detail here. Recent history forces one to conclude that these 'legal sales' will also have included the mandatory 'arms deal kickbacks' to our dearly beloved, honest, reliable and hardworking politicians.

      Sean - 2011-02-26 23:22


      Ben - 2011-02-27 10:09

      Eish..Yes Uhmmm It's ahhh because Ahhh. Its because because. In actual fact.....And so it goes on.....

  • peter - 2011-02-26 10:46

    How can the ANC condone the sale of any arms to a country that does not have a free and fair constitutional democracy in place? What did the ANC fight for ... or perhaps now that they are in government ... a a free and fair constitutional democracy is not important anymore?

      dehaan1942 - 2011-02-26 11:30

      Dear Peter, there is one honest guy in the ANC who has given the answer to your question, he said: "I did not join the struggle to stay poor!"

      alfred - 2011-02-28 16:41

      Saudi Arabia doesnt have a free and fair democracy either but that doesnt stop you from using their oil does it? What about the US that just sold them $60billion worth of arms? Italy signed a good neighbour agreement with Libya just last year. What about them.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-02-26 10:50

    "South Africa had a legal obligation not to trade in conventional arms with states engaged in repression, aggression or terrorism." By 2010 Gadaffi had been exercising repression for 40 years already.

      lmduplessis - 2011-02-26 12:01

      Hut he's their buddy. They'd do anything to help a friend.

  • grascowil - 2011-02-26 11:09

    Hmmm with friends like these......

  • lsmodular - 2011-02-26 11:16

    emotions and sense cannot be together, therefore please apply logic before emotions. Libyan oil exported to Italy is over 12%, oil exported to europe is huge, meaning the EU is funding Gaddaffi oppression. Its incorrect statement that south Africa cannot trade with libya as UN and the US have lifted all forms of sanctions against Libya after the complied. Please Please stick to the facts

  • dehaan1942 - 2011-02-26 11:25

    Of course the sales were legal! How could anybody think that the ANC government would do anything that is illegal? Countless investigations have proved this to be a fact beyond any doubt! All arms deals were and are and shall be legal! The PARTY has spoken!

      lmduplessis - 2011-02-26 12:02

      I can't figure out if you actually believe what you're spouting or weather you're being incredibly sarcastic.

      Cire - 2011-02-26 14:25

      @imduplessis. He's being sarcastic - well, realistic actually!

      Law Abiding - 2011-02-26 14:31

      The sarcasm is so appropiate to this news report. Well said. (Hope the ANC understands the sarcasm and does not take it literally)

  • bosegoos - 2011-02-26 11:32

    Arm sales might be in accordance with the laws made by SA. But what about inrernational conventions and UN resolutions? Our government has a tendency to associate with skunks. Many people were probably killed by the Gaddafi's regime with arms sold by SA to this dictator who does not hesitate to kill innocent people who protests against him. Hope you will be able to sleep at night Mr Radebe!

  • discontented - 2011-02-26 11:33

    There may be some truth in the statement “logic before emotion” but the overriding consideration should be “is it ethical?” We have the history of the ANC’s reaction when arms were sold by the French to the Apartheid Government in the 70’s. Does “double standards” spring to mind?

  • lsmodular - 2011-02-26 11:49

    fair point that our government has a tendency to be associated with skunks, however the US for years have backed Hosni Mubarak, FACTS,January 16, 2009, the U.S. and Libya signed a Defense Contacts and Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding. FACTS,In September 2009, Qadhafi visited the U.S. In May 2010, the U.S. and Libya signed a Trade Investment Framework Agreement. My point is politician are not ethical and i cannot understand why we expect them to be ethical, in this issue the ANC is just like the rest of the world unethical. its not a south african problem. lets not mislead each other.

      alfred - 2011-02-28 17:20


  • johan - 2011-02-26 11:57

    Didn't the Sisulu, minister of defense state earlier this week we did not sell Libya any sniper rifles? So, now we did. She lied again, how many time may she lie and get away with it...? She lies about everything!

      Darter - 2011-02-26 12:43 are the one that is lying. She said "not that I am aware of". It is not the Defence Minister's job to track which South African weapons are being sold and to whom, that falls under the National Conventional Arms Committee. What she did infact say was something to the effect of "SA did not sell any sniper rifles in support of this specific uprising in Libya", but she was not aware of any sales prior. Again, that falls under the NCACC.

      Law Abiding - 2011-02-26 14:34

      @Darter - You make me ask: Why is there such a minister, if she has no responsibilities and absolute deniability?

  • Alwyn - 2011-02-26 11:59

    We are run by terrorists that believe in violence and everything unlawfull is lawfull to them ,they will also cling to power by means of force if they should lose the elections,they are Gadaffi and Mugabe supporters,after all they supported the ANC during the Apartheid era

  • Comrade Mike - 2011-02-26 12:45

    Were we paid for these arms?

      Sean - 2011-02-26 23:23

      WE never were were - but one or more FAT CAT politicians did

  • Cire - 2011-02-26 12:50

    After all, looney tunes donated millons to the ANC, the least they can do now is ensure he gets the weapons he needs to stay in power and to continue making providing generous support available to the comrades. Only fair really.

  • Hugo - 2011-02-26 12:52

    If it is so, why does Sisulu pretend to know nothing?

      Darter - 2011-02-26 13:22

      It is not the Defence minister's job. It is the job of the NCACC. Like she said "not to my knowledge". Same way in which it is Armscor's responsibilty to purchase weapons. Ofcourse she interacts with the NCACC but probably not at a level where she's able to tell exactly how many rifles, bullets, which calibre, etc etc where sold yesterday to this customer at this exact time.

      Cire - 2011-02-26 14:26

      She's not pretending - she really doesn't know anything!

  • lsmodular - 2011-02-26 13:12

    we have intentionally changed the story - completely unethical but expect politicials to be ethical. Arms were sold prior to the uprising.., Libya also received arms from the US - South africa is not the only country that trades with libya. Mubarak used US arms aid to oppress his people. why do we change the context of the statement? why

      Cire - 2011-02-26 14:23

      Well, I can think of at least one difference: Neither Egypt nor Libya provided milions of dollars to an American political party. Looney Tunes donated millions to the ANC - the ANC approves weapons sales to Looney Tunes. All a bit sordid really!

  • bluejay - 2011-02-26 14:14

    silly people with sad lives on this site!sa companies have the right to sell arms to any country that is legally entitled to aquire it.grow up you plonkers and not just spit your bitterness at the anc-run government.i am not an anc member or supporter but jeez no one can be so bitter that they jump at the opportunity to be critical just for the sake of being critical.

      Cire - 2011-02-26 14:20

      Don't be so critical!

      Sean - 2011-02-26 23:27

      So you support genocide and murder of legitimate patients in a medical facility?

  • Martin - 2011-02-26 19:18

    Arms kill, where-ever they go, thats what they are made for. So the topic of ethics is very vague!

  • Colin - 2011-02-26 19:43

    Typical of murderous government thugs, kill innocent protesters, supply them with what ever they need to kill the innocent citizens just like Mugabi(Zuma's brother) and company. Get rid of your opposition then they cannot vote against you.

  • nem - 2011-02-26 22:16

    One genocidal regime supporting another genocidal regime,,,,,,,,

  • Judgmental - 2011-02-26 23:01

    Look at it this way, it's a supply and demand system in action. We have an over-supply of Muslims in this world and an under supply of Gadaffies in this world and he is doing, lets say, natural cleansing or eliminating opposition to remain in power and we have our government supplying him with the necessary tools to reach his objective. All is fair in love and war. We all moan and bitch, but, tomorrow morning the sun will rise and we will continue with our lives, nobody has the balls to do anything!!!!

  • Sean - 2011-02-26 23:19

    Hans, they cant criticise genocide in other countries, while they are perpetrating genocide in their own country.After all, that would be hypocritical.And we ALL know,we have no hypocrites in our government

  • Peter - 2011-02-28 16:13

    But why would you WANT to sell arms to a MADMAN? Whether it is legal or illegal is irrelevant. Did someone get a kickback or something? I understand this is quite common in arms deals. There was a case in South Africa some years ago, I recall....

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