Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2004-03-25 Reporter: Sapa

DA Accuse Asmal of Breaking Arms Law



The Natal Witness

Date 2004-03-25



Web Link


Government has until Tuesday next week to produce permits and end-user certificates related to the abortive attempt to supply arms to Haiti in February, Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said yesterday.

If the documents are not forthcoming, the DA, acting on the belief and evidence that the attempt to export 150 R1 assault rifles, ammunition and equipment to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's police was unlawful, would report the matter to the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

"If a copy of the permit and end-user certificate is not furnished to us by 11 am on Tuesday, we will have no alternative but to approach the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate this matter," Leon said.

But presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo dismissed Leon's threat as politicking.

"If Leon wants to electioneer, it is his democratic right to do so. Government has done nothing wrong. It has followed the law to the letter. If he wants to take the President to the NDPP, then so be it," Khumalo said.

Leon said the National Conventional Arms Control Act, steered through Parliament by Education Minister Kader Asmal last year, bound the state as much as any private entity.

Before the state could send arms to Haiti, it had to obtain a permit from Asmal's National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) and obtain and end-user certificate from the ultimate recipient, in this case Aristide.

Leon said it appeared at face value that Asmal had broken his own law and although Asmal had responded to questions about the NCACC's role in the matter, he had not answered them.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and The Natal Witness.