The National Conventional Arms Committee (NCACC) should launch an investigation into how converted Ratel infantry vehicles, previously operated by the South African Army, found their way to Yemen. That’s the view of the opposition Democratic Alliance party. Various news services, including Reuters, have in recent days posted photographs of at least one Ratel in the hands of rebel troops in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
“The NCACC’s latest annual report records that R373.8 million worth of conventional arms were sold to Yemen in 2010,” DA defence shadow minister David Maynier says. “Conventional arms exports to Yemen last year included R239.4 million worth of ‘Category A’ conventional weapons, which are described as ‘major conventional implements of war that could cause heavy personnel casualties.’
Maynier says there is no evidence suggesting that the Ratel infantry vehicles were exported directly from South Africa to Yemen. However, the UN Register of Conventional Arms shows 100 were exported to Jordan in 2003 and 221 in 2004. These were refurbished by the government King Abdullah Design & Development Bureau with the reported assistance of the South African Paramount Group and Mechanology Design Bureau (MDB). The upgrade included fitting an Ukrainian BAU-23×2 turret to the vehicles. It is such a vehicle that has been filmed in Sanaa.
It is not clear how many of the vehicles have been supplied to Yemen, nor by whom or when. As far as can be determined, the NCACC would have a veto over the re-export of the vehicles by Jordan. Senior officials at both Paramount and at Emerging World Technologies – the former MDB – said this morning they were in the dark about the development. The NCACC acknowledged receipt of defenceWeb’s query and undertook to respond, but had not done so by time of publication.