Thursday 17 June 2021 - 23:48

South Africa Under Fire for Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE Amid Crimes in Yemen

Story Code : 938639
South Africa Under Fire for Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE Amid Crimes in Yemen
Earlier this month, the Southern African Human Rights Litigation Centre (SALC) and Open Secrets, a non-profit organization investigating economic crime, submitted an application in the high court in Pretoria calling for both the names of companies that are authorized to export arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as a judicial review of the NCACC’s authorizations of arms deals with the two countries.

An investigation by Open Secrets titled Profiting from Misery - South Africa’s war crimes in Yemen revealed that weapons produced in South Africa are awash in Yemen and being used by numerous parties in that war. 

According to a report by the Middle East Eye, South Africa exported between 22 percent and 31 percent of controlled items valued between $287m and $330m in 2019 and 2020, respectively, to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The hearing was over in less than half an hour, with Pretoria high court judge Norman Davis granting the order while the NCACC refused to file court papers and turn up in court to answer to the case.

Open Secrets’ Hennie Van Vuuren said the order meant that they had “cleared the first major legal hurdle.”

“Now we get to the urgent business of stopping the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who have targeted civilians in Yemen and are accused of violating international law,” the South African online newspaper TimesLive quoted him as saying.

He said this was likely to be a lengthy process involving powerful institutions and large arms companies.

“But it is vital that we challenge a practice which has seen a profit being made from human rights abuse in countries like Yemen,” Van Vuuren added.

Meanwhile, evidence has also shown that South African weapons have been found at the scenes of attacks against civilians in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The act draws a line in the sand between the secretive apartheid arms machinery and the post-apartheid commitment to being a responsible member of the international community ... No longer would weapons be sold to the highest bidder regardless of how they would be used,” SALC’s Anneke Meerkotter said in an affidavit.