25 January 2013

South Africa: Court Stops SA Choppers for Zim

Johannesburg — The High Court in Pretoria has granted an order to freeze the delivery of South African helicopters to the Zimbabwean military, Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum said on Friday.

"An urgent interim court order was awarded to AfriForum late this afternoon by the North Gauteng High Court to prevent delivery of Alouette III Air Force helicopters by the SA National Defence Force to the Zimbabwean army.

"The interim order shall stand pending the finalisation of the main application by February 19 2013," said AfriForum's legal representative Willie Spies.

AfriForum made the urgent application to the court on Friday after the news about the donation to the Zimbabwean government broke.

Last week, AfriForum's legal team presented letters on the matter to the Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, as well as the Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe, who is also chairman of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee.

The letters were written after rumours surfaced that the SANDF had decided to donate its entire fleet of used Alouette helicopters to Zimbabwe.

"The ministers were given seven days to react to the letters, but no reaction had been received by close of business yesterday."

Spies said while the two ministers declined to react to the letters delivered to them, their spokesmen confirmed to Mail & Guardian that arrangements for the delivery of the helicopters had been finalised and that the delivery would take place shortly.

"We have also informed the acting French Ambassador to South Africa in writing of the potential risk for his country, in that France may be contravening the arms embargo against Zimbabwe, as imposed by the European Union, as the South African government will now be donating imported French helicopter parts to Zimbabwe," Spies said.

He said according to the National Conventional Arms Control Act of 2002, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee must consider certain principles before the sale or delivery of military equipment to another country can be authorised.

"These principles include, inter alia, the human rights record of the particular country."

The National Director of Public Prosecutions was recently ordered by the Pretoria High Court to investigate certain offences against humanity committed by Zimbabwean military officers, he said.

Spies said indications were that the Zimbabwean army was enhancing its visibility and mobility in anticipation of the national elections scheduled to take place later this year.

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