¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Post details intel on a possible arms shipment to SA along with hypothetical repercussions and suggested actions. END SUMMARY.


¶2. (C) On November 14th, this office intercepted a communication (reftel B) from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) notifying of a possible arms shipment arriving in or near the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. As per the communication, the recent capture of a 22s gang leader has led to information reguarding a potential weapons pipeline going into the KwaMashu township, just outside the city of Durban. Details are vague and accuracy is questionable, with no source or supplier mentioned in the comm.

¶3. (C) In a follow-up phone call between the two forementioned parties, a list of possible munitions was given. The list included AK-74U assault rifles, AN-94 assault rifles, KS-23 shotguns, MP-444 handguns, and several barrels of ammunition (5.45×39 mm, 12 gauge shells, and 9mm). In addition, the SAPS officer said the 22s gang leader claimed that the weapons were a gift and that no payment was needed. Both men agreed this was a lie. Although the two parties did not identify whom they believe the shipment was meant for, where it came from, or what the purpose was – they did determine an immediate plan of action.


¶4. (C) According to the above intel, the drop point for the weapons shipment was a township known as KwaMashu, twenty miles north of Durban, the third largest city in South Africa. While index crimes have decreased significantly throughout SA over the past couple of years, the growing disparity between the poor and wealthy has seen a large rise in violence in several of the more impoverished areas. As of four years ago, KwaMashu was unofficially named the ‘Murder Capital of South Africa’. Even though the township has less than 500,000 residents, it averages more than 49 murders a day. More than 150 gangs occupy the city with 87% of the killings being drug-related. In addition, the employment rate is 28% with more than 35% living below the national level of subsistence. Police officers rarely enter the downtown area and the ones that do are generally believed to be corrupt.


¶5. (C) At 5:30AM on November 17th, a SANDF assault team raided an abandoned store in downtown KwaMashu. The house was the purported location of the arms shipment, as told by the 22s gang leader in custody. Upon entering, the soldiers discovered that the building was vacant and began to depart. Before leaving, a jeep carrying three white males sped out from behind the store, attempting to flee the scene. The SANDF and the men exchanged gunfire for several minutes, ending with the deaths of all three men, four SANDF soldiers, and one bystander. All three of the white males appeared Russian, based on appearance and clothing labels, but were not carrying any identification. Six days after the incident, a medical examination was still unable to identify the men. Their fingerprints and DNA did not get hits in any national or international databases. SAPS officers questioned several residents in the area but no one claimed to have any knowledge of the men.

¶6. (C) Less than four hours after the raid, a bomb exploded in a police station in Durban. Seven people were killed and fifteen injured. Of the people who died, two were police officers and five were prisoners, including the informant from the 22s gang.

¶7. (C) A follow up sweep of the abandoned store yielded no new information. The SAPS was unable to find any trace of a weapons shipment as well as anything to verify the previous statements made by the now dead informant. The only items admitted into evidence were an old investment packet from a company known as the Steinlöw Group and several broken glass pipes used for smoking methamphetamine (called ‘Tik’ in SA). No connection to the incident is suspected regarding either item.


¶8. (C) It is this office’s opinion that low-level street gangs in KwaMashu are unlikely to have the connections, resources, or funds to purchase a weapons shipment like the one discovered in the intercepted communication. If such a shipment or pipeline does exist, it is most likely orchestrated by someone with much more influence who intends to use the street gangs as pawns. It is very possible that someone is preparing a political coup against the current administration. This office will update if a target is identified. Another possibility suggested by our analysts, though a much less likely alternative, is that someone from the outside is pumping armaments into the most impoverished areas of SA in hopes of sparking a civil war. Tensions between classes is close to boiling point with several small riots already breaking out. Adding guns to the equation would certain bring about a major conflict, possibly involving the entire country. It remains unclear what goal would be accomplished by sparking a civil war in the area. Of course, this analysis is highly unlikely.

¶9. (C) While no concrete evidence exists regarding the supposed arms shipment, this office recommends immediate recon in the area. If the shipment is found, it should be secured and the pipeline should be neutralized along with any operators. The SA administration has very close ties to the US and any disruption would be very problematic. END COMMENT.

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