South Africa must block munitions sold to Turkey - analyst

South Africa must block shipments of arms sold to countries at war, including munition shipments to Turkey despite the United Nation's call for a ceasefire in Syria and Libya during the COVID-19 pandemic, analyst Shannon Ebrahim said on Sunday.

Several Turkish military transport planes filled with medical equipment have flown to Cape Town, returning to Turkey with military munitions from Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), according to a report by South African newspaper Daily Maverick.

"Under the COVID-19 lockdown regulations, only essentials like medical supplies and South Africans stranded abroad are allowed to be transported across borders. How six Turkish military cargo planes were allowed to enter the country and return home full of military hardware supplied by Rheinmetall Denel Munitions is baffling," Ebrahim, group foreign editor for South African Independent Media platform, said.

Ebrahim said the shipments raised serious questions over transparency and why South Africa is making such transactions when Turkey is involved in military operations in both Syria and Libya.

South Africa's arms trade regulator, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), has failed in its mandate to monitor the export of weapons to Turkey as it is suspected that the munitions were destined for use in war zones, Ebrahim said.

"The devastating humanitarian crisis that emerged in the wake of Turkey’s military aggression should have been reason enough for the NCACC to block any military sales from Rheinmetall Denel Munitions to Turkey, but the company has been allowed to sell arms to Turkey for the past two years, he said.

Turkey launched four major military operations in Syria with allied Syrian Islamist militia, meanwhile, Ankara backs the Government of National Accord against the eastern-based Libyan National Army, which has gained control of most of the east and south of the country over years of fighting and last year began an offensive to seize the capital city.