[MSN] South Africa: Confiscated museum tanks may have been used before seizure

msn-list at te.verweg.com
Fri Nov 4 09:10:53 CET 2005

Confiscated museum tanks may have been used before seizure - minister  
November 3, 2005

Safety and security minister Charles Nqakula has suggested that the tanks
confiscated earlier this year in a controversial raid on the SA National
Museum of Military History in Johannesburg had been used shortly before the

Speaking at a parliamentary briefing, Nqakula said "soft mud" had been found
on the tyres of some of the vehicles removed from the building during a
joint raid by the military police and the SA Police Service in January. 

He later tried to retract the statement and asked that the media not report
the new information, warning that it could "come up as evidence". It was not
clear whether this meant that museum officials arrested briefly after the
raid would be prosecuted.

Nqakula was speaking about loopholes in the Firearms Control Act and
referred to some museums which had been found to be storing functional R5

He said police had found both functional weapons and operational tanks at
the SA National Museum of Military History.

"We are investigating a case as you know of the SA National Military Museum
where we found these functional weapons, where we found tanks - also
operational - and somebody said when they looked at the tracks on some of
the trucks in that military museum ... there was soft mud on them.  

"Now we are not sure whether it rains in museums but it is those things we
want to ensure don't happen, because people have been abusing the loopholes
that we have in the Firearms Control Act," Nqakula said.

Questioned by a journalist on the statement, he added: "No man, that thing
is not meant for publication. I'll tell you why, it may come up in evidence.

"So really, I wouldn't want us to report on that." The raid apparently
followed a tip-off to authorities that the museum was holding "war capable"
weapons and vehicles. A Ratel infantry combat vehicle, an Eland 60, a Ferret
and an Eland 90, collectively worth R120 million, were removed, along with a
number of other weapons on display. 

The museum director and two curators were arrested for possession of
suspected stolen military equipment, but released without charges. The SANDF
said this week that the probe was ongoing and sub judice.


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