Dear Honourable President Ramaphosa and Minister Pandor
I hope this finds you safe and well.
As a former ANC MP and an investigative writer and campaigner on the global arms trade, conflict and militarism I would like to exhort you to support the call of the UN Secretary-General for a global ceasefire. Your support on the Security Council and in the African Union will make a profound difference. It is time for the world to focus on the real threats facing us: the public health pandemic, inequality and the climate crisis. The profit-driven obsession with devastating wars, such as in Yemen, make the world a far less safe and secure place.
The Yemen conflict has resulted in the direct deaths of almost 20,000 innocent civilians as a consequence of the Saudi-led coalition’s targeting of schools, hospitals, homes and economic infrastructure in defiance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and what may also be war crimes. It has also resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades, now intensified by COVID19.
With this in mind may I also sincerely request that you ensure that South Africa exports no weapons, or acts as a conduit for weapons, to any member of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Failure to do so will mean our country is complicit in violations of IHL and possible war crimes. Since the exhilarating advent of democracy in South Africa, we have often been a leader internationally on a range of progressive issues. Let us not sully that hard-won reputation.
And finally, considering our commitment to international human rights law, could I ask that you seriously examine how it has been possible for one of the world’s most egregious weapons dealers, Guus Kouwenhoven, who has been sentenced to 19 years in jail in Holland for war crimes and illegal arms dealing, to evade this sentence by living, in great opulence, in South Africa. It is a dark stain on our country’s reputation that this man was ever granted a visa in the first place, and that he was not extradited to Holland as requested.
I thank you for considering these related matters, and look forward to hearing from you.
Shadow World Investigations