Any democracy can only survive if it has a well established and powerful military force, and South Africa is no different. The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) is a threat to democracy, however. The size of the Defense Force is a small percentage of that of the United States (US) forces, but with three times the number of generals. Clearly this is a case of more chiefs than Indians.
The SANDF is seen as a personal piggy bank long before the 1994 transition to democracy by many people. Since the times when the Daphne submarines were built by Chantier Naval Atlantique from France whence Portugal, South Africa and Pakistan were supposed to be the anchor clients. This was all completed with the United Nations embargo against South Africa in respect of weapons.
It was most intriguing to note the silence from the side of the National Party (NP) during the time of the Arms deal Transaction disclosures. It was alleged that the spokesperson for the NP on Defense had his family involved in executing contracts for the military. He appeared unusually sensitive to the fact that any criticism handed by him would be construed as being negative by the African National Congress (ANC) Government and could lead to the cancellation of these contacts for his family.
In the New Generation Arms Management (NGAM) story about the missing Dillon Minigun and the other weapons, all the allegations raised by Vanessa Du Toit from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) are proven as false. In her own affidavits, the documents which she attached proved her malicious slander. It has been clear that it was her intention to slander Erasmus and NGAM. Criminal charges had been laid by Erasmus against her as well as all the other persons so implicated. Erasmus is known as a no nonsense operator with a track record remarkably few can equal. He had pointed out how that the journalists had gone out of their way to slander him, especially journalists such as Erica Gibson from News 24 – an ex Military Intelligence Officer and Jacques Pauw, a vindictive person working for an Intelligence Operative by the name of George Darmanovitch who lives in Johannesburg. Erasmus has revealed that in a contract from Armscor for the delivery of East Block weapons. Can this be detected as a threat to the South African democracy.
For the South African Special Forces (SASF), that despite numerous attempts at sabotage from Armscor and SASF, Erasmus and his black partners delivered. However, there is still a serious issue at play until today as Armscor continues to defer the payment due for over a period of two years. It would seem as if Erasmus and NGAM are being punished for delivering despite all the odds and sabotage they had to endure.
When Armscor and SASF could not succeed in destroying this company they linked them to the Boeremag, a fictitious organization created by the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) own Crime Intelligence division (CI). Erasmus views this as a terrible injury and is pursuing this issue as the originators of this nonsense are nothing else but criminals in his view. This issue will be addressed in a further article as to the threat against democracy as to the lack of the SAPS fulfilling their mandate. Not only this, the SASF management and Armscor had given to The SA Revenue Service (SARS) a totally fabricated story as to alleged income Erasmus and NGAM had received. SARS dutifully raised a false assessment and claimed monies from NGAM and Erasmus which they had not even received as yet. SARS is relying on draconian tax legislation. Erasmus is not taking this lightly and has lodged criminal charges against all these parties as well as SARS on behalf of himself, NGAM and his partners.
The SANDF is a hot spot of considerable corruption. Erasmus is intensely pragmatic about it and said that one cannot be a Don Quichote in charging windmills but one have to deal with reality and tack one’s sails against the wind. The SANDF poses a threat to the democracy of South Africa and in particular how the defense industry continues to operate.
Erasmus refers to a company called Unionlet, a British registered arms company that operating out of Dubai. This company also holds the FN representation from Belgium. (Fabrique Nationale which manufactures high quality weapons.) In conversations with the Office for Serious Economic Offences (OSEO), in the United Kingdom, about the supply of weaponry by Unionlet to SASF at nearly double the going prices, it was surprising to note that the OSEO was extremely reluctant to delve into this company. The question was asked if this company was a front for the British MI6 or just working closely to the representation? (MI6 is the British Foreign Intelligence Service also known as the Secret Service). No response was forthcoming. This happened when South Africa was the largest user of such FN rifles and is suspiciously flimsy. In the book, ‘The Shadow World’, by Andrew Feinstein and his delving into the Arms Trade, much is related to the role of OSEO and their investigations into British companies in the defense industry.
In the South African situation, the Defense Industry is regulated by Act 41 of 2002. Through this Act, different structures of the State must regulate the industry. The National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) and the Directorate Conventional Arms Control (DCAC).
The NCACC is a Cabinet committee which is chaired by Minister Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and supposedly an opponent to President Jacob Zuma with smoldering presidential aspirations. The DCAC is being run by a certain Dumisane Dladla, a relatively young man who sits in a Chief Director’s position in the Department of Defense. The DCAC falls under Secretary of Defense. There is considerable frustration in the industry as permits are delayed; companies find themselves not being able to deliver timorously of foreign contracts. This behavior is a threat to democracy in South Africa.
An illustration of the treat to democracy is that during December 2013, a company was required to export Armored Personnel Carriers (APC’s) to an African client by air. Their permits had been delayed for almost the better part of a year. In December, their permits came through, and they had to meet with Vanessa Du Toit at the NCACC in this regard. Allegedly the meeting was to take place on a Friday. The company’s representative arrived punctually for the meeting with Du Toit, whence he was informed that she had gone to collect her brand new government subsidized vehicle. This delay by Du Toit while the planes were on standby at a local airport is an expensive exercise. The company approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on an urgent basis, and they were granted an order compelling the NCAS to provide the relevant export permits. This was done on the Saturday with the goods flying the Sunday.
Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) is a Division of Denel (The state owned armaments manufacturing company). PMP’s CEO is Phaladi Phetje, and its Business Development Manage is Victor Khasapane. A rifle called the Neopup was developed by Tony Neophyto, a brilliant weapons designer. The Neopup is a shotgun on steroids as it fires six rounds in 20×42 mm. This calibre was specifically developed by PMP based upon Neophyto’s design. The marketing of the weapon was bedeviled by one Fats Lazarides, owner of the Ocean Basket chain of restaurants. Lazarides are the obvious culprit in this scheme that went belly up. Apparently Phetje is a five percent shareholder in the company Neopup (Pty) Ltd, despite him earning an income from the state at PMP. There was also an agreement between Phetje on behalf of PMP that Neopup would garner a commission on all ammunition sales from PMP in this regard. However, due to Lazarides, as a fish and chips man, underestimating the costs of such a venture, the venture grounded to a halt due to his refusal to pump more money into it. Meanwhile, PMP had sold three of these weapons to the USA. They were now stuck with an order and no manufacturer. They approached engineering firms in and around Pretoria to manufacture these weapons. However admirable the engineering firms are they apparently are not accredited with the NCACC. The same NCACC whose Vanessa Du Toit raised false affidavits against NGAM and Erasmus. Different strokes for different folks.
PMP was also mentioned in the First Consult report into irregularities in 2005. In this review NGAM and NGA, the company of Ivan Monsieur who was assassinated in 2009, they complained about the export of seventy million rounds of redundant ammunition to Industriepark Spreewerk Lubben Germany. There were massive irregularities in this contract, and the then Minister of Defense, Terror Lekota’s name was mentioned. Lekota was always a Thabo Mbeki ally and is currently the leader of one of the struggling opposition parties, The Congress of the People (COPE).
Smuts Ngonyama is also a member of this party. He is known as one whilst still member of the ANC (The Ruling Party) when he gained R120 million income out of the Telkom privatization, he stated “I did not join the struggle to become poor”.
In the First Consult report, the issue was that it was a professed government to government contract between Jordan and the RSA. The question is as to whether the Cabinet at the time even knew about it. Yet, another government to government contract has now come to light. This time between the RSA and Senegal.
The main player in this issue is Francis Brand from OSPREA (Pty) Ltd. In this regard OSPREA is to be instrumental in supplying the Senegalese with some 28 Rooikat (Lynx) Tank killers.
The Rooikat is an impressive vehicle except that it suffers from a lack of support due to its advanced electronics. It is also fitted with a 76 mm gun where the round fired, travels at a speed of 1 600 per second. With a tracer one can see the round over a 2000m distance, as a blink – that’s how fast it is! The gun was originally built by Oto Melara from Italy as a naval gun. The gun cannot shoot straight, and a report was compiled by Denel around 2003 for Armscor into the problem and how to solve it. Until today, this report has been shelved by Armscor. The function of this gun from its design was never to shoot straight, and it was to be used on the sea in an anti-aircraft role.
OSPREA has now managed to sell this Rooikat via a so called government to government contract to the Senegalese who clearly have no clue as to what they are in for.
The sordid tale continues, whenever and wherever one touches on the SANDF, there is always something surprising. As a Defense Force, the SANDF is a disgrace to all South Africans, except perhaps for those few who are retiring as billionaires (on a state salary!) from the SANDF. This is a real threat to the democracy of South Africa. As long as the defense industry escalates out of control, there will never be consensus.
By Laura Oneale