No arms sold to Libya, says Denel

Arms manufacturer Denel on Friday emphatically denied it, or its subsidiaries, had sold armaments to Libya following a sales trip to that country a year ago.

“Not at all,” the company’s acting group communications manager, Pamela Malinda, told the South African Press Association (Sapa) when asked whether any such sales had taken place.

Earlier on Friday, the Mail & Guardian published details from a leaked Denel internal memo outlining a visit to Libya in April last year, which involved the “planned sale of G6-52 artillery systems, missiles, grenade launchers and anti-materiel rifles”.

The business opportunities for Denel in Libya amounted to R6 289-million.

The report quotes Malinda saying Denel representatives had visited Libya “to explore the opportunities for the marketing of defence products”.

Malinda confirmed to Sapa this was correct, but repeated that, with one exception, “no contracts and deals were concluded”.

The exception was a contract struck with Denel subsidiary Mechem for “training on de-mining equipment”.

Mechem specialises in the clearance of landmines. The company also builds mine-protected vehicles such as the Casspir.

M&G editor Nic Dawes on Friday said the paper did not claim there was a finalised sale, rather it drew attention to planning and marketing methodologies that the paper thinks Denel still needs to answer for.

“If the sale didn’t go through despite Denel’s clear intent to conclude it, then it must explain why it didn’t go through. Was it that circumstances of the Libyan uprising intervened, or was it prevented by South Africa’s arms-control legislation.”

According to the M&G report, quoting from the memo, the arms sale was almost a done deal after discussions with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“The trip received the blessing from both the presidencies ...
The Brother Leader also stressed the importance of having Africans trading within the continent.”

President Jacob Zuma has been criticised for supporting a United Nations Security Council resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya, where rebels are trying to topple the long-time leader Gaddafi.

The resolution led to Nato-led air raids on the North African country.

The South African government on Thursday called for restraint to avoid further civilian casualties in Libya and rejected efforts to use the crisis to effect regime change.

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