Rooivalk for police?


The short answer is “no”.

For a short while the Parliamentary Monitoring Group’s minutes of a Denel/Department of Public Enterprises “Winter School” for the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises made it appear the SA Police Service had a requirement for the Rooivalk attack helicopter.

The PMG quoted Denel strategy and commercial head John Morris as saying “the Rooivalk had a lot of demand from the South African Police Service (SAPS) for defence and firepower.”
The minutes then add that they (Denel) “had delivered five aircraft to the SAPS and were still going to supply more.”
I made a call to Gerhard Koornhof MP to verify the information. The veteran MP and defenceWeb reader checked his notes and found the five Rooivalk were in fact delivered to the South African Air Force – the current inventory of 11 aircraft are being reconfigured as operational platforms and the air service has now had the first five so upgraded.
He did, however, confirm Morris` statement regarding the police requirement. The mind boggles! If nothing else the reported requirement underscores flamboyant police chief Bheki Cele`s kragdadigheid in dealing with criminals. 
Morris further noted that there were still “a number of countries that were showing an interest in the Rooivalk”, including South Korea that “was looking for the technology”.
Sadly, just as the imagination really got rolling, Morris let it be known that it was all a misunderstanding. “We see no interest by the SAPS in Rooivalk since this is a combat helicopter and is not at all suitable for police operations.”  
Morris says the SAPS is instead interested in airborne sensor systems for fixed and
rotary wing aircraft “and we are in the process of discussing maintenance support work for police helicopters in partnership with Eurocopter.

Secrecy and arms exports

It is a strange thing that the National Conventional Arms Control Committee has been slapping security classifications on South African arms exports reports – that should be public and unclassified in terms of the law that established the committee – when it provides much of the same information to the United Nations for publication on their website.

It strongly reminds of the infamous situation in 1975 when the entire world new Apartheid SA had invaded Angola, but South Africans themselves were in splendid ignorance because of a government media clampdown.

The law is clear, as is the committee`s cavalier attitude towards it. Section 23 of the NCAC Act reads:

23. (1) The Committee must-

(a) ensure compliance with the annual reporting requirements of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and simultaneously present to Parliament a copy of South Africa`s annual report to the United Nations;

(b) make quarterly reports to the Cabinet and a committee of Parliament determined by Parliament on all conventional arms exports concluded during the preceding quarter; and

(c) at the end of the first quarter of each year, present to Parliament and release to the public an annual report on all conventional arms exports concluded during the preceding calendar year,    

My understanding is the committee has never “simultaneously present to Parliament a copy of South Africa`s annual report to the United Nations” and has only once since 2003, when the Act became law, made a quarterly report.   

As for subsection (c), it is a matter of record that the 2003 report was only tabled in Parliament in 2005 which meant it missed its deadline – set in law – by something of a margin. In addition, the 2005, 2006 and 2007 reports are classified, which means that while some MPs may see them, the general public cannot, making a mockery of the section concerned.     

Not only does this insult the public but it makes a farce of transparency and genuine security concerns – after all some of the data is on the UN website!

This type of nonsense must stop.

A leading jurist once said that when “the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law… It invites anarchy.” In order to prevent anarchy, we must ensure that our government and its representatives are held to account.

Bringing the NCACC to order is a good place to start.