Publication: Die Burger Issued: Date: 2003-05-23 Reporter: Anesca Smith

'SA Can't Blow Off Arms Deal'



Die Burger

Date 2003-05-23


Anesca Smith

Web Link


Cape Town - South Africa could lose its reputation as a reliable trade partner in the arms industry if it cancelled the multi-billion-rand arms deal at this "late stage".

This was the reaction of military expert Helmoed-Romer Heitman on Thursday to renewed demands that government review the transaction.

A Cape businessman, Dr Richard Young, alleged on Wednesday that the report of the investigation into the arms deal was significantly edited before it reached parliament. Young claimed important information, such as gifts received by key figures in the deal, was omitted from the report.

Heitman said South Africa would not only be seriously "penalised" if it cancelled the deal now, but that the reversal of the transaction would also have serious ramifications for international trade relationships.

However, a pressure group - currently trying to prove in court that South African taxpayers cannot afford the transaction - said this claim was "rubbish".

"Is it preferable that the country be raped economically by going ahead with the transaction?" Terry Crawford-Browne of Economists Allied for Arms Reduction asked.

Heitman said that South Africa would never again be able to buy "such good equipment at such a good price".

With acknowledgements to Anesca Smith and Die Burger.