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A long time ago, in what now seems a different country, news came of a Chinese ship sailing for Durban. On board it had cargo for construction purposes. But it was also packed with a deadly arms shipment: reportedly, 3-million rounds of small arms ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds.

That arms cargo was to be transported across SA territory and delivered to the Zimbabwe ministry of defence — in the immediate aftermath of Zimbabwe’s deeply contested 2008 presidential elections. It would be more than a month before those elections results were announced, giving Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Morgan Tsvangirai a majority of the votes but not so large a majority that he could avoid a run-off with the incumbent, Robert Mugabe...

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