The South African Revenue Service (SARS), under which customs officials fall, has also moved to reject claims made last weekend by a Sunday newspaper that the military was trying to smuggle weapons to Cuba on a chartered flight.
SARS spokesperson Sicelo Mkosi confirmed the cancellation of the South African Airways (SAA) flight that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chartered to fly Cuban technicians back to their country.
Rapport reported that the aircraft, meant to transport the Cuban technicians, was carrying firearms and ammunition as well.
“SARS wishes to clarify media reports that customs officials discovered R4 and R5 rifles, 7.62mm light machine guns and ammunition on-board an aircraft at Waterkloof air force base last Saturday, 23 July 2018,” Mkosi said.
“Our customs officials were working with colleagues in the SANDF to clear the aircraft, and we can report that neither weapons nor ammunition were found in the flight or passenger luggage during the inspection of the flight and documents presented to the customs officials.”
Mkosi said SARS pledged its “full commitment to cooperation with the SANDF and other relevant government agencies at national points of entry in the effort to protect the interests of the country”.
Earlier this week, SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi dispelled the reports and said the SANDF rejected the allegations with contempt.
“The equipment in question was heavy vehicle simulators for training purposes and were cleared by Customs and ARMSCOR following due process,” Mgobozi said.
“The SANDF would like to state that there were no small arms or munitions that formed part of the consignment as reported.”
Mgobozi said the equipment was earmarked for SANDF members to be trained in the technical aspects of simulator development, maintenance and repairs as part of the bilateral agreement reached with the Cuban Armed Forces.
“This is aligned with the need to develop the necessary technical scarce skills in the SANDF as identified and directed in Milestone 1 of the South African Defence Review 2015.”