Mbeki denies giving order to refuel Chinese arms ship

May 20, 2008
Author: Bathandwa Mbola

Cosco’s An Yue Jiang – Mbeki denies refuelling the ship. Picture by Clinton Wyness

Durban, 19 May - President Thabo Mbeki has denounced media reports suggesting that he gave an order for the Chinese ship, loaded with arms en route to Zimbabwe, to be refuelled.

A Mozambican online newspaper reported on Saturday that President Mbeki had ordered Deputy Defence Minister, Mluleki George, to send the SAS Drakensberg – the South African Navy combat support vessel, out to sea to refuel the ship.

The report then went on to say the arms had been offloaded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and transported to Zimbabwe.

Mr Mbeki said the deliberate campaign to spread lies about the presidency and government needed to end.

The controversial Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, is carrying three million rounds of ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles and small arms, 3500 mortars and mortar tubes as well as 1500 rocket propelled grenades.

On 18 April, the ship left the Durban outer anchorage shortly after the Durban High Court ordered that its cargo could not be transported across South Africa to Zimbabwe.

South Africa had earlier said it was not in the position to interfere with shipment.

The ship then travelled to various coastal countries including Mozambique and Angola in a bid to have the cargo offloaded. It is now believed to be at sea just outside of South Africa's territorial waters. – BuaNews


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