Details emerge of SA's vast arms bazaar

REVELATIONS that South Africa sold Saddam Hussein billions of dollars worth of arms in the 1980s have raised the possibility that the Iraqi leader used the weapons to attack a key ally of the then white minority government, Israel, in the Gulf war.

A figure of dollars 4.5bn (pounds 3bn), the alleged price tag for sales of South Africa's G-5 howitzers with a range of nearly 30 miles, cluster bombs and kits to upgrade missile systems, has emerged from a suit lodged in a Pretoria court by a Palestinian businessman, Walid Saffouri. He has accused Armscor and its international marketing agency, Nimrod International, and a Zimbabwean family, the Cochranes, producers of cluster bombs, of conspiracy to defraud him of his 11 per cent commission, worth dollars 495m.

A spokesman for Denel, as Armscor is now known, would not confirm the sales or the price tag, although he said if the weapons had been sold, they were not exchanged for Iraqi oil as some reports suggested. Denel announced last week a dollars 120m sale to Oman of G-6 howitzers, a mobile armoured version of the G-5, with ammunition and training. The sale may be the first of many, now the arms embargo against South Africa has been lifted. Officials at Mechem, Denel's research arm, have said they hope to sell Britain their mobile armoured car, the Mamba.

The G-5 and G-6, rated by some experts as the best howitzers in the world, gained fame in southern Angola in the 1987-88 battle for Cuito Cuanavale, considered the biggest engagement in Africa since the Second World War. The weapon is devastingly accurate up to 28 miles. The Cyprus-based Mr Saffouri, whose Silver Falcon Enterprises is based in the Channel Islands, has claimed that he brokered the sales with Iraqi officials but has not received his full payment from Armscor.

South Africa's links to the Middle East were strong with Israel, which co-operated with Armscor in the development of the Cheetah attack plane, a modified version of the Israeli Kfir, the Olifant tank, based on the British Centurion, and the Kukri air-to-air missile.

Western military observers in Angola have said up to 10 Israeli pilots are flying jets in support of South African mercenaries fighting on behalf of the government against Jonas Savimbi's Unita rebel movement, which, ironically, South Africa supported during the battle for Cuito Cuanavale.

The Angolan government announced last December that it had expelled 18 employees of a security company called Ango-Segu Ltd, run by a former colonel of Mossad, the Israeli secret service. The government said the company had illegal weapons, and Western military sources in Luanda said they were suspected of passing military intelligence to Unita.

South Africa's Israeli links have come under the spotlight in connection with several mysterious deaths of men involved in the chemical and arms industries. South African newspapers quoted police sources suggesting involvement by Mossad.

The latest casualty was Don Juan Lange, found two weeks ago in his Durban flat with a bag over his head connected to a gas cannister. On 13 November 1991, Mr Lange reportedly led police to two men who had offered to sell him radioactive material, caesium 137, in a lead box, presumed to be destined for the Middle East.

That was four days after the dismembered body of a British immigrant, Alan Kidger, was found in the boot of his car in Soweto, outside Johannesburg. Police believed Mr Kidger was smuggling to the Middle East a substance known as Red Mercury, claimed to provide a cheap detonator for plutonium warheads.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Life and Style
Sony Computer Entertainment President and Group CEO Andrew House, executive in charge of Sony Network Entertainment, introduces PlayStation Now
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?