International hunters on their way to Mozambique should be aware that South Africa will not issue a transit permit for their firearms. The South African Police Service (SAPS) is refusing to issue the permits, and only hunters with a pre-approved permit issued before June 1 have been allowed to continue to Mozambique with their firearms. In an email, a captain in SAPS Arms Control, Permits and Authorizations explained only that applications are on hold due to the “situation” in Mozambique.
That situation, according to other sources, refers to an ongoing issue with extremist rebels in northern Mozambique, which may be more of a catalyst than the exact reason why South Africa is not issuing transit permits. Mozambique and South Africa have been at odds over a proposal by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to deploy into Mozambique 2,500 to 3,000 troops from the SADC Standby Force. The force is part of a regional defense pact among the 16 countries in southern Africa and was created to allow military intervention to prevent conflicts from spreading. For months now, an Islamic militant group has fought to control the Mozambican port town of Palma in Cabo Delgado, where they caused the suspension of a new $20 billion liquified natural gas project and have displaced approximately 50,000 people. Mozambique’s president has declined allowing troops from other SADC members to enter the country. Yet South Africa has strongly supported the move during the most recent SADC summits.
Because OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is a hub for many international flights to southern Africa, most hunters traveling to Mozambique transit through South Africa. South Africa requires that all firearms transiting the country be issued a transit permit. Despite South Africa’s de facto embargo on firearms to Mozambique, officials at Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (which overseas hunting there) say they are unaware of any prohibition of firearms from South Africa and that the Mozambique Ministry of Interior is issuing import permits as usual.
Whether the embargo on firearms originates from South Africa or in Mozambique is unclear at this time, but sources say it will remain in place at least through the end of June. Hunters arriving in South Africa without a pre-issued transit permit will be forced to leave their firearms in Johannesburg. Other possible routes to Mozambique, include flights with Ethiopian Airlines flying through Addis Ababa and Qatar Airlines flying through Doha. Both require prior approval to carry firearms. For more information, contact SCI’s Hunter Information Service at www.safariclub.org/contact Check SCI’s blog posts under Inside Hunting later this month for updates.