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Parliament, Cape Town - The defence department could not say on Monday whether the sale two years ago of “obsolete” military field guns to a private contractor was properly and legally recorded for export.
“I can't give you a yes or no; I'll have to look at the annual report,” communications head Siphiwe Dlamini told Sapa on Monday.
He was responding to a question on whether the sale of 10 “88mm Howitzer GVI Guns” to African Union contractor Lefa Engineering and Security, in 2011/12, had been recorded in government's reports to the United Nations, as required by international law.
Earlier on Monday, the Cape Times newspaper reported: “These guns are not listed in the National Conventional Arms Control Committee annual reports on weapons exports.”
Dlamini said he would have to check “how this process unfolded” before he could respond, insisting that the department's “agent” when it came to the sale of obsolete and redundant military equipment was Armscor.
“From our side, we hand over (the equipment) to Armscor, (which) does all the processes,” he said.
Dlamini said he was “not saying it's not our responsibility”, but suggested the question be put to Armscor.
Armscor was not immediately able to comment on the matter.
Communications head Barileng Dichabe asked that any questions on the matter be forwarded via e-mail to the state-owned corporation.
“We hereby confirm receipt of the correspondence. We will respond shortly,” she said in a return e-mail.
The sale of the guns was revealed in a recent written reply to a parliamentary question by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
The reply listed details of “excessive, obsolete, redundant and unserviceable” military equipment, including bombs, guns, planes and vehicles, “disposed of” over the period 2009 to end June this year.
Included were the 10 howitzers.
“The alienation of defence materiel is facilitated by Armscor,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.