Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS & ARMS TRADE

Questions persist as South Africa allows the sale of munitions to Turkey

Questions persist as South Africa allows the sale of munitions to Turkey
Two Turkish A400M military transport planes arrived in Cape Town on Thursday. (Photo supplied)

Altogether six A400M military transport planes have been travelling from Turkey to Cape Town in pairs, two days apart, to pick up the order from Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM). Each plane can carry up to 37 tonnes of cargo. The last batch left on Monday.

The first of the Turkish planes arrived on Thursday and brought a small load of medical supplies as a gesture of goodwill to South Africa. One of the planes also stopped over in Somalia to drop humanitarian and medical supplies there. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the planes were allowed only a very short turnaround time in Cape Town. The lockdown regulations are, however, silent about whether the export of arms is allowed to go ahead despite the pandemic.

Banker-turned-arms-deal-activist Terry Crawford-Browne said the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) has failed in its responsibilities as it is suspected that the munitions were destined for use in Libya or Syria. Turkey is involved in the conflict in both countries. This, he said, “makes a mockery of South Africa’s purported support of United Nations Secretary-General [António Guterres’s] appeal for a Covid-19 ceasefire”. 

He said the NCAC Act provides that South Africa would not export armaments to countries that abuse human rights or are in regions in conflict, or which are subject to UN arms embargoes. Crawford-Browne said he has written to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, as the head of the NCACC, and International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, as the deputy, asking them to enforce the provisions of the act.

Countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom have already banned exports of weapons to Turkey which they said could be used in the conflict in Syria, saying it could be a threat to European security. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, however, said any arms embargo would strengthen Turkey’s domestic production.

Turkish ambassador Elif Ülgen earlier confirmed that the cargo was military ammunition bought from Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), but said most of it would be used for military exercises at home. The supplies are destined for the Machinery and Chemical Industry Institution (MKE) which processes explosives and ammunition for the Turkish ministry of defence and which was supposed to have received the order at the beginning of March. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions in travel, including flyover permissions, meant a delay of several weeks. 

South Africa sells several planeloads of military equipment to Turkey, potentially flouting Covid-19 lockdown rules

RDM is jointly owned by German company Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH and Denel, and, according to information on the company website, “specialises in the development, design and manufacture of large- and medium-calibre ammunition families and is a world leader in the field of artillery, mortar and infantry systems as well as plant engineering”.

RDM is no stranger to controversy. It was previously involved in selling weaponry suspected of fuelling the crisis linked to human rights violations in Yemen, but this practice was halted in 2019 when tightened export controls came into effect in South Africa. It has also exported its 120mm mortars to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with reportedly increasing evidence that coalition forces from these two countries have targeted civilians. DM

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick The Gathering 2024 banner

Daily Maverick has secured an esteemed speaker line-up...

to help make sense of Elections 2024.

Trevor Manuel, Prof Thuli Madonsela and Minister Ronald Lamola are among the latest panellists confirmed for Daily Maverick The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

Join us, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town or online wherever you are, for an event that will put the election in perspective.

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider