I drafted the following section of testimony by Jennifer Davis outlines the case.
Testimony of Jennifer Davis, Executive Director of The Africa Fund, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Recent Developments in South Africa, September 23, 1992 (Excepts, with attachments)
Mr. Chairman, as I conclude I would like to discuss briefly three
specific issues concerning the situation in
Mr. Chairman, at the same time
as violence is taking its grim toll in
It is likely that some of
these guns have been used to kill men and women active in the struggle for
democracy. I have attached to this testimony a clip from The Citizen
The Africa Fund first alerted the Departments of State and Commerce to a series of these cases in November 1990. In June, 1991, forced by the Commerce Department’s persistent stone walling, we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Commerce for the export documents. When this was denied, we filed suit in federal court in cooperation with the Center for Constitutional Rights to force disclosure of the export documents. Until this suit reached the discovery stage, the Commerce Department refused even to admit that the documents existed. While now admitting the existence of some 1,100 documents, Commerce continues to refuse us access.
This September 14, government attorneys told Federal District Court
Judge John Keenan that illness had prevented two Department of Commerce investigators from traveling to southern
At that point we presented the Court with a series of
The documents also show the extent of the fraud involved. Two of
the cables deal with the case of Tatos Brothers. A
cable from the U.S. Embassy in
In a number of cases cited by Eagleburger the original orders were
even faxed from
The documents also show jurisdictional wrangling between the Departments
of Commerce and Customs. A fax from the
U.S. Embassy in
The claims that a good faith investigation is underway appear to be
flimsy. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, we
have been forced to the conclusion that this administration cannot be trusted
to reveal the truth about these arms shipments, much less put an end to
them. That is why I am urging this
Committee to subpoena the 1,100 documents relating to illegal munitions
shipments to southern
It seems on the face of it a bad policy to allow transshipment of
embargoed items through an embargoed country.
The possibility of diversion is too great. The Department of Commerce should cease
granting licenses for transshipment of guns and munitions through
One final intriguing note. According to the Weekly Mail (September 18), Fred Tatos is currently
working for a
THE WEEKLY MAIL, September 18-24, 1992
Gun runners getting US arms into SA
By PAUL STOBER
in The Weekly Mail’s possession have revealed a huge illegal trade in
weapons from the
The Africa Fund, a US anti-apartheid pressure group, has started a civil action in New York against the US Department of Commerce. It wants the courts to force the department to release more than 1 000 pages of documents detailing illegal arm transactions.
documents, outlining some of these transactions, reveal that hundreds of
semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, rifles, magazines and hundreds of
thousands of rounds-of ammunition, worth millions of dollars, left the US but
never arrived at their stated destination of Harare, Zimbabwe. The weapons were to have been shipped via
Department, along with the Department of Commerce, is investigating
the possibility that
companies in. the
law and the 1977 United Nations arms embargo still forbid the export of military
arms to South Africa. In the
district attorney Peter Sobol, who is investigating possible
charges against US companies, says some munitions did not arrive at the destination
stated on their export licences or were transferred
to South Africa after their arrival at their destination. The Commerce Department’s investigation
covers the period from 1972 to the present, and is being conducted both in
The department has refused public access to the documents saying it needs more time to complete its investigation
“The documents we’re investigating are cumbersome. It takes weeks and months to verify. The investigation is national and international. It just takes time,” Sobol said.
Accusing the Department of Commerce of not taking the arms embargo seriously and of trying to cover up lax licensing procedures allowing the munitions through in the first place, The Africa Fund has demanded that it be allowed to examine the documents.
Africa Fund members are incensed that the arms may have reached South Africa, especially since shotguns, made by US companies, are reported to be used in violence in the South Africa’s townships.
On May 14, this year, a sergeant in the KwaZulu Police, Siphiwe Mvuyane, was arrested by members of the South African Police in connection with an arms cache which included a shotgun made by the US gun manufacturer Mossberg and Sons of Connecticut.
Although the importing of over 50 tons of munitions was spread over four years, it is the large quantity of weapons involved which has served to harden suspicious that the weapons have been used to fuel the violence In the South Africa.
According to the manager of A Rosenthal, a gun dealership whose export licence was revoked by the US Commerce Department, small private concerns could not be responsible for arms trading on any large scale. “There is just no way they could finance it,” he explained.
According to The Weekly Mail’s documents, most of the munition orders were placed by a Harare-based firm, Tatos Brothers.
A director of the company, Dhiru Desai, has denied placing at least two of the orders and said that his company has not received a foreign currency allocation, from the Zimbabwean government, to import munitions for several years.
The US State Department, which as responsible for the investigation in southern Africa, is looking into a possible link between a former owner of the company, Fred Tatos, and the false orders.
Tatos, now based in Cape Town, works at a gunshop, Suburban Guns. Earlier this year, Suburban Guns was named in documents revealing how private concerns purchased arms, ammunition and chemicals for Armscor.
A South African Bill of Entry was appended to the testimony. The documents list the imported items as "Double Barrel Shotguns" destined for Suburban Guns (Pty.) Ltd. of Cape Town and are signed by Armscor, the South African government's armaments corporation. You can view this document as a jpg file.