Pretoria, January 25, 2013 – AfriForum won an urgent interim court order in the North Gauteng High Court late Friday to prevent delivery of Alouette III Air Force helicopters by the South African National Defence Force to the Zimbabwean army.
The interim order shall stand pending the finalisation of the main application by February 19.
AfriForum issued an urgent application to the court on Friday after the news about the donation to the Zimbabwean government broke.
Legal representatives for AfriForum presented letters last week to the Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, as well as the Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe, who is also Chairperson of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, after rumours surfaced that the SANDF had decided to donate its entire fleet of used Alouette helicopters to Zimbabwe.
The Ministers were given seven days to react to the letters, but no reaction had been received by close of business Thursday.
While the Ministers declined to react to the letters delivered to their respective offices on January 17, their spokespersons did confirm to Mail & Guardian that arrangements for the delivery of the helicopters had been finalised and that the delivery would take place shortly.
According to Willie Spies, Legal Representative for AfriForum, the organisation is overjoyed that the application was successful.
He added that AfriForum will continue to use all legal avenues at its disposal to prevent delivery of the aircraft to Zimbabwe.
“We have also informed the acting French Ambassador to South Africa in writing of the potential risk for his country, in that France may be contravening the arms embargo against Zimbabwe, as imposed by the European Union, as the South African Government will now be donating imported French helicopter parts to Zimbabwe,” Spies said.
In terms of the Act on the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, Act 41 of 2002, the NCACC must consider certain principles before a transaction regarding the sale or delivery of military equipment to another country can be authorised. These principles include, inter alia, the human rights record of the particular country.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions was recently ordered by the Pretoria High Court to investigate certain offences against humanity, committed by Zimbabwean military officers, in accordance with South Africa’s duties in terms of the Statute of Rome.
During the 1970s to 1980s Alouette helicopters were used by, inter alia, the South African Defence Force during its war with Angola, to launch air-to-ground pursuits on insurgents. The helicopters were regarded by all as formidable weapons.
All indications are that the Zimbabwean army is enhancing its visibility, mobility and presence across Zimbabwe in anticipation of the national elections that are scheduled to take place later this year.
It is general knowledge that the Zimbabwean army determined the outcome of the so-called second round of the presidential elections in 2008, when President Robert Mugabe was re-elected as president, after the MDC beat Zanu (PF) during parliamentary elections.
Operation waVhotera Papi (“for whom did you vote?”), as the military campaign was known, was a systematic, brutal suppression of MDC supporters by members of the Zimbabwean Army.