Crisis? What crisis?
Zim 'arms ship' docks in Durban
16/04/2008 13:46 - (SA)
Durban - An uncleared vessel - suspected of carrying arms - docked at
the Durban harbour, the National Ports authority said on Wednesday.
Spokesperson Ricky Bhikraj said the Chinese vessel had entered the
port without clearance and had currently docked at the outer
The ship - called 'An Yue Jiang' - is suspected of carrying a
consignment of arms allegedly headed for Zimbabwe.
A Port side police source told Sapa the ship was carrying arms and
had docked at the harbour on April 14.
He said there were rumours that it was to deliver arms to Zimbabwe.
Bhikraj confirmed that a vessel by that name had entered the Port of
"We can confirm that there is an uncleared vessel (not cleared to
enter port) by that name currently at the outer anchorage. The
allegations are being handled by the various national security
authorities," he said.
Noseweek editor Martin Welz earlier told Sapa: "The cargo ship was
openly delivering a containment of arms for Zimbabwe."
Asked where he had obtained the information from, Welz said it was
his own business.
Bhikraj, meanwhile, said the vessel had to follow procedures.
"There is a normal process for all ISPS (International Ship and Ports
Security) vessels to be cleared to enter the port. He said this
vessel would now have to go through that process and that it could
take quite some time before it is cleared.
He said if the vessel was not cleared, it would not be allowed to
enter a South African port.
Asked whether there had been arms on the ship, Bhikraj said: "We
can't comment on the whether arms were or were not on the vessel"
Dennis Abrio of the national branch of the South African Police
Service said they would comment on the matter once they had details.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said
he could not comment on the matter.
Zim weapons ship waits for OK
17/04/2008 08:24 - (SA)
Durban - South Africa approved a transit permit this week for the
shipment of tons of weapons and ammunition destined for Zimbabwe.
A Chinese ship with almost three million rounds of ammunitions for
small arms and AK-47s, about 3 500 mortars and mortar launchers, as
well as 1 500 rockets for rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) arrived in
Durban Harbour on Monday shortly before the permit was issued.
According to a copy that Beeld has of the ship's cargo documentation,
it was finalised on April 1, three days after Zimbabwe's election.
It was not known when the order for the weapons had been placed.
An inspection by the South African customs authority deemed this
consignment "risky" and further shipment was halted for the moment.
According to the South African Revenue Service (SARS), who are
responsible for customs control, the six containers in which the
weapons had been packed would be inspected by SARS and police
officials on Thursday to determine whether they were, indeed,
'A question of morality'
Part of the shipment apparently also was destined for "clients" in
Arms-control experts said on Wednesday that there was technically
probably nothing wrong with the weapons transaction between China and
Zimbabwe, nor with the issuing of the transport permit.
Guy Lamb of the Institute for Security Studies said: "It's not a
question of illegality, but rather of morality, in light of the tense
situation in Zimbabwe, especially if it was to contribute to the
The weapons were supposed to be transported by road from Durban to
Besides the transport permit issued by the National Conventional Arms
Control Committee (NCACC), a clearance permit from the explosives
department of the police is still needed before the shipment can be
Minister of Justice Mosiuoa Lekota and Minister of Provincial and
Local Government Sydney Mufamadi, who is also the chairperson of the
NCACC, or their directors-general usually issue these kinds of
permits in consultation with the National Intelligence Service, the
Secret Service and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Mufamadi is also part of President Thabo Mbeki's mediation team
handling the election crisis in Zimbabwe.
Noseweek's Martin Welz brought the shipment's arrival to the media's
attention on Wednesday.
The Transnet port authority confirmed that the Chinese ship, the An
Yue Jiang, anchored in Durban harbour on Tuesday after they had
allowed it access in terms of certain protocols.
Not in actual harbour yet.
However, when customs personnel examined the ship's manifesto and the
documentation specifying the cargo they found, in collaboration with
the police, that the cargo was a "potential risk" because there was
something wrong with the documents.
According to SARS, the ship was not in the harbour, but within the
boundaries of the harbour.
The ship was due to enter the harbour on Thursday after which the
containers would be opened and all the contents would be inspected.
If the SARS officials saw anything suspicious in the consignment it
would be referred to the Foreign Affairs Department.
The law consequently would determine if the ship or the cargo should
Lamb said it was strange for a shipment of weapons for Zimbabwe to be
sent via Durban because the Mozambican harbour town, Beira, had
always been used for the shipment of Zimbabwe's military equipment
which was then sent by train to Harare.
This route was the shortest, fastest route from a port to Harare.
SA playing neutral role.
Lamb said the shipment's timing was reason for great concern and one
which the South African authorities needed to consider.
He thought that the debacle potentially could badly undermine the
mediation process in Zimbabwe, in which South Africa was supposed to
play a cardinal, neutral role.
The ministries of defence and foreign affairs referred all enquiries
to Mufamadi's office, but no comment was available at the time of
going to press.
What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of
the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.
Thank you Sir.