by Virgil Hawkins
The SACCPS was recently contacted (via Facebook message) by an armoured vehicle manufacturer. The corporation offered us (at “very competitive” prices) a large selection of armoured vehicles from which to choose, ranging from fortified sedans with bulletproof glass, to the more heavy-duty military and tactical vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers complete with turrets for machine guns and rocket launchers.
According to their message, the manufacturer has supplied thousands of such vehicles to governments and their armed forces, as well as to security consultants and contractors, among other entities. They offered to arrange a visit to their office and armouring facility to see first hand their product line, capabilities and services.
|Some of the products on offer|
We can only assume that this was a rather clumsy attempt at targeted advertising. The word 'Security' from the Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security (SACCPS) must have been picked up in their searches for potential clients – those who are involved in a direct way in the hands-on 'security' sector, the one that requires actual offensive and defensive capabilities.
Admittedly, the corporation was not offering to sell us guns or explosives, and the majority of the vehicles on offer could be considered to be primarily defensive in nature – their ability to resist small arms fire and explosions and move at speed away from dangerous situations being their greatest sales point. It should also be noted that such vehicles are also used by peacekeeping forces to deter and prevent violence and the threat thereof.
By the same token, one can easily imagine other, less positive, potential uses for their military and tactical vehicles – particularly those equipped with turrets to attach machine guns and rocket launchers. Such vehicles have, in many instances, served national security forces and private military companies, for example, in the violent suppression of peaceful protest, and other forms of human rights violations.
Unfortunately for the armoured vehicle manufacturer, we are in fact a network of researchers and practitioners collaborating, primarily through analysis and the use of the spoken and written word, to promote peace. As such, we will not be placing any orders for their products, or 'liking' them on Facebook. But being directly contacted by such a corporation was a reminder of just how close and active the arms industry is.