The United Nations has confirmed it has ordered about eight tons of ammunition from a Pretoria munitions maker, adding that all the necessary permits and end-user certificates were in order.
This is in contrast to allegations by the police’s Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (the DPCI, known as the “Hawks”) that the export permits appeared fraudulent.
The New York-based Inner City Press late last week reported UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky as saying the ammunition was for UN Security Personnel assigned to its missions in Burundi, the Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia.
“The purchase was not meant for Blue Helmets (contingents), which are coming to the field with their own arms and ammunition, but for UN security personnel of three UN peacekeeping missions (BINUB, ONUCI and UINMIL),” Nesirky said in a statement. “The purchase was a standard solicitation completed with full cooperation from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa. All licenses and end user certification have been obtained, presented and approved by proper authorities.”
The Hawks and police crime intelligence personnel seized the ammunition and detained New Generation Ammunition CE Richard Potgieter on January 5 when he delivered the ammunition to the South African National Defence Force fr onward transmission to the UN in the Democratic Republic of Congo from where the world body would have delivered it to its personnel in Burundi, the Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia.
Potgieter was released the same day and has still not been arrested or charged with any offence. He has also stated in court papers the permits, which were issued by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee were valid and correct.
NGA last Monday obtained a North Gauteng High Court order for the release of the ammunition, but police say they will ask for the order to be set aside. Despite having been in court and despite having time to prepare arguments and evidence, police say the court made the its decision on the basis of flawed information.
“Police are of the opinion that they acted accordingly and in keeping with their mandate when they confiscated the ammunition from the airport on January 5 and will defend this decision in court,” Hawks spokesman Musa Zondi said Friday, a month after the incident.
“In the meantime police will apply to the high court for the decision that forces us to release and transport the ammunition to the destination to be set aside. We believe the court will, with all the facts on the table, agree that there is a lot more investigation that needs to be undertaken regarding this ammunition, its destination and what appears to be fraudulent permits that were presented to officials.”
“We are also working closely with the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] who are also a party to these proceedings by virtue that they were allegedly going to transport the said ammunition on behalf of this company.
Potgieter insists the allegations are scurrilous and the police’s conduct is further irregular under the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 read with the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) 51 of 1977. “The police official who seized the ammunition did not make any copies from the documents that I had in my possession, that were seized by him, nor did he make any extracts thereof. He also did not request an explanation of any of the documents and he failed to issue a written receipt for the documents and ammunition that he seized,” Potgieter insisted in an affidavit.
Th NGA CE added that contrary to the law, the police also did not have a warrant. “In terms of Section 20 of the CPA, the State may seize anything only by virtue of a search warrant issued in accordance with Section 21 of the Act. The member of the South African Police Services who seized the ammunition failed to provide me with a copy of the warrant (Section 21(4)), notwithstanding a demand thereto.”