Ammo dispute finally settledComment on this story
The milions of rounds of ammunition, which ended up in Luanda, Angola, while it was destined for SA, will be returned to Singapore where it came from, the Pretoria High Court was told.
Armscor accredited weapons dealer New Generation Arms Management (NGAM) and the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) reached an agreement. In terms the agreement the arms control committee will issue the arms company with in-transit permits to remove the ammunition from a store in Luanda to send it back to Singapore.
The company gave an undertaking to Judge Neil Tuchten that it would ensure that the ammunition safely made its way to Singapore.
The judge made the agreement between the parties an order of court.
Judge Tuchten this week expressed his concern about the ammunition stored in Angola and questioned what would happen if it fell into the wrong hands.
He said if the parties did not reach an agreement, he would make an order to ensure the ammunition was removed.
The arms company, which mainly does business with the SANDF, in an urgent application, told the court that it had a permit to bring the ammunition to SA. But, as the consignment - by way of a comedy of errors - ended up in Angola, the permit had lapsed.
The Angolan government won’t release it without knowing what the end destination is. And due to red tape, no permit to release the ammunition could be obtained.
Lawyers for the arms company told the court that the firm no longer wanted the ammunition to come back to SA and that it was planning to send it back to Singapore.
It is kept in storage in Luanda, for which the arms company has to pay and the Angolan government is threatening to destroy it if it is not removed soon.
The consignment arrived in Durban harbour during the long weekend in April.
Harbour officials did not feel like doing the paper work as they had a skeletal staff at the time.
The boat was on its way to West Africa and the officials decided to only unload the ammunition once the boat returned to Durban harbour.
When the consignment reached Luanda, the Angolan government was up in arms, believing an attack was going to be launched on the country.
The issue was only sorted out via diplomatic intervention.
But the ammunition could not be removed as the permit to bring it into SA, had meanwhile lapsed.
Another application for permits allowing the arms company to have two highly advanced Gatling machine guns in SA, was meanwhile postponed to September 14.
The company said it brought two of these guns into the country as “samples” as the SANDF wanted to test them.
The guns are now in the care of the Special Forces, at a bunker at Wallmannsthal, but the permits to have them in the country, had also lapsed.
The Hawks recently attached these weapons and according to arms company this was because the permits had lapsed.
But counsel for the arms committee, tasked with issuing these permits, told the court that the weapons were attached as there is a “substantial criminal investigation” by the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions on the go against the arms company.
The matter was postponed to next month as the respondents have not yet had time to file their court papers.