Tell us about your favourites and win
Johannesburg - If it’s second-hand, South Africa might not have logged it internationally as an arms sale.
South Africa is obliged to tell the UN what weaponry is being exported, but information provided to Parliament last week shows that not all those sales are properly reported.
A list of “excessive, obsolete, redundant and unserviceable” equipment sold by the Department of Defence and handed to Parliament includes the sale of 10 military field guns sold in 2011/12 to a private contractor for the AU.
But this sale is not recorded in the government’s reports to the UN, as required by international law.
The list was handed to Parliament by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in response to a question by DA MP Petronella Duncan, who had asked what surplus military equipment the department had disposed of since 2009 and who the end-users were.
This was one of the items in the list of sales for the 2011/12 financial year: ten 88mm Howitzer GV1 guns, sold to Lefa Engineering and Security for the AU.
These guns are not listed in the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) annual reports on weapons exports.
The minister’s report last week is for the financial year that runs from April 2011 to March 2012.
That period is covered by the 2011 and 2012 NCACC reports. It runs its reports on calendar years.
The NCACC annual report to the UN for 2012 was handed to Parliament in April.
This report lists the sale of 177 armoured combat vehicles to 14 countries and to the UN for its mission to Somalia. Exports of large-calibre artillery are listed as “nil” and there are no entries for any goods for the AU.
The NCACC’s 2012 annual report - a different report - to Parliament does not detail items sold in the way that its report to the UN does, but it lists values of sales of different categories of armaments exported to different countries. This report lists R1.44 million in sales of category B equipment to the AU mission in Somalia, but nothing to the AU for category A equipment.
The Howitzers would be category A equipment. An NCACC document submitted to a parliamentary committee in 2011 notes that category B equipment is “all types of handheld and portable assault weapons of a calibre smaller than 12.7mm”, while category A equipment is “sensitive major conventional implements of war that could cause heavy personnel casualties and/or major damage and destruction” and includes “weapons with a calibre of 12.7mm and larger”.
Asked for comment late on Sunday, the Ministry of Defence said it would respond on Monday.
The sole director of Lefa Engineering and Security, Bruce Ramfolo, would not comment on queries about why the sale wasn’t reflected in the NCACC reports and whether the legal permissions for export had been obtained. “No comment. Get your facts right,” Ramfolo said on Sunday night. He would not elaborate.