Court Interdict after Military Seizes Weapons

Article excerpt

A Pretoria weapons dealer won an interim interdict against the SA military in the North Gauteng High Court last night after officials from Defence Intelligence and the Military Police yesterday seized a container filled with weapons intended to be used by his company for demonstration purposes.

The weapons, worth around R15 million, were attached at the Wallmansthal Special Forces military base outside Pretoria yesterday. The attaching of the weapons was effected without a search warrant, apparently on the basis of concerns around national security and the possibility of the weapons allegedly being used in a coup d'etat by forces the military described as "Boeremag" - claims which the owners of the weapons describe in court papers as "slanderous".

But in seeking an urgent interdict against the military yesterday, Johan Erasmus, operations manager of the Armscor-vetted and registered military importer/exporter New Generation Ammunition - which is 80 percent black owned - claimed the seizure of his weapons consignment was merely the latest in a series of moves by "shadowy interests" in the SANDF to put NGAM out of business.

The application was made on the basis of intelligence received that the weapons were to have been destroyed ahead of being used in a demonstration planned for early June.

But the long-term goal, Erasmus believes, is to hijack the company's potentially lucrative agency agreements with Bulgarian weapons manufacturers. Erasmus's contract with the Bulgarians is due to run until 2015, but with a multimillion-rand contract for rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) to be used by SANDF Special Forces currently in the pipeline, he claims "shadowy interests in the SANDF and their private sector partners have moved to edge him out and hijack his business for themselves".

The seizure of the weapons followed the lodging of substantial court papers before the North Gauteng High Court in which NGAM - picking out Special Forces procurement officer Colonel DB Smit as first respondent - traces a long history of alleged moves to discredit and otherwise harm the company's business.

Among other issues, Erasmus highlights the following in the court application:

l That the same seized consignment - brought in ahead of a demonstration exercise for the SANDF's infantry - had earlier been sealed for some months in Luanda after Department of Defence officials and the SANDF had failed to accredit it despite the fact that paperwork authenticating the import was incontrovertibly in place. …