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How South Africa, Nigeria Trade Weapons For Synagogue Victims



A South African newspaper, Mail & Guardian, has claimed that the South African government may have traded the bodies of 84 South Africans that died in a guest house that collapsed at the Synagogue Church in Ikotun area of Lagos for a promise to supply arms to the Nigerian government.
The paper said it saw two letters written by a Minister in the South African Presidency, Jeff Radebe, in which he promised to assist Nigeria ensure that an arms sale worth $9.3m (about R100-million), which had been blocked by South Africa, would proceed.
The Mail & Guardian reported that Radebe wrote to JP “Torie” Pretorius of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks), and Dumisani Dladla, the head of the national conventional arms control committee secretariat, seeking to assist the Nigerian government to get the weapons.
In his letters, Radebe, the chairperson of the arms control committee, said it had come to the committee’s attention that the failed attempt on September 5 to pay an arms dealer in South Africa “was, in fact, a legitimate requirement from the government of Nigeria.”
“Although the required administrative processes were not adhered to at the time, the government of South Africa deems it a bona fide error,” Radebe said in his letters to Dladla and Pretorius.
The minister’s key request to Dladla was for him to “liaise” with Pretorius and to “obtain all relevant information in order to assist the parties involved to apply for the necessary authorisations in compliance with the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Act (no 73 of 2008).
“Upon receipt of the required permit applications, the national conventional arms control committee will favourably consider ex-post facto approval thereof,” Radebe wrote.
The report disclosed that Radebe however, found it difficult to sell his plan to other South African authorities as other law enforcement agencies looking into the arms money are pressing on with their investigations.
The minister was accused of asking the head of the NCACC to supply the authorisation. Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko is quoted as saying an investigation was continuing into the arms money.
On September 12, 116 people, among them 84 South Africans (three of them foreigners using South African travel papers), were killed in the collapse of a multi-storey guest house attached to the Synagogue Church of all Nations in Lagos.
On November 16, the remains of 74 of them arrived in South Africa. At the time, Radebe said a health department employee who was assisting with the repatriation in Nigeria had also died after contracting malaria.

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