THE Pretoria High Court last night granted an interdict agains the Mail & Guardian preventing it from the publishing the name of a middle eastern country with which Denel is negotiating an arms deal.
Earlier in the day, the paper had refused to comply with a demand from Denel’s attorney’s that it sign an agreement not to disclose the name of the country, because the deal bound Denel to confidentiality. Judge Willem De Villiers gave Denel a temporary interdict, with a return date on August 28.
PARASTATAL arms manufacturer Denel on Thursday came out in support of government’s new policy of maximum disclosure of arms transfer matters announced on Wednesday by National Conventional Arms Control Committee chairman Kader Asmal.
The Denel statement flies in the face of criminal charges laid by the group against weekend newspapers of the Independent stable for revealing a R7-billion arms deal with an unnamed middle eastern country. On Wednesday, Denel attempted to interdict the Mail & Guardian from naming the country. The newspaper was late on Thursday fighting the interdict.
Meanwhile, the Freedom of Expression Institute on Thursday called on Denel to immediately withdraw charges against the newspapers and journalists who exposed the deal.
The institute also called on Denel to drop its interdict against the Mail & Guardian: “We … call on Denel to drop plans to seek a court interdict against the newspapers wishing to publish the name of the client,” the FXI said in a statement.
Asmal on Wednesday slammed Denel for using an apartheid-era law to sue Independent group weekend newspapers. He said the newspapers had “acted with restraint” and shown willingness to compromise.
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane said in another statement on Thursday that a more open attitude regarding arms sales disclosure is welcome, although the new policy is still not sufficiently transparent. “Arms are fatally dangerous. Citizens of a country have a right to know when arms are being sold, to whom, and for what stated purposes. Africa is awash with arms,” he said. “It doesn’t need more munitions in societies that need food, job creation, capacity building and programmes to eradicate poverty.”