War Profiteer of the Month: Imperial Armour

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A screenshot from the Imperial Armour website showing body armour, helmets, goggles, holsters and other equipment
A screenshot from the Imperial Armour website showing body armour, helmets, goggles, holsters and other equipment

Imperial Armour is a South African company based in Durban, which produces a wide range of clothing, uniforms, boots, bullet proof vests and body armour, helmets, bags, and equipment such as binoculars, belts and holsters for military, police, fire and rescue, and demining groups. The company was formed in 2000, and has supplied to over 75 different countries, with international agents in countries including Kenya, Kuwait, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, and Vietnam. Imperial Armour recently supplied 1000 helmets to Cameroon, completed a contract with the Botswanan military, and is bidding on a contract to supply the South Africa Police Service with 2,600 units of protective gear. The company regularly develops and promotes new equipment, recently launching a new “ultra-light” riot suit.

The company also appears to advertise to the domestic market in South Africa; their social media feeds encourage readers to decide if they feel safe when driving, or walking the dog, and proposing weapons such as pepper spray, extendable batons, and knuckle gloves as “necessary additions” and “preventatives”. The company has also used social media to market body armour to farmers in South Africa, including holding live firing demonstrations and competitions to win equipment, and uses its website to give advice if you have “walked into a riot”. Imperial Armour regularly exhibits at arms fairs around the world, including IDEF (in Tel Aviv, Israel), DSA (in Malaysia), and DSEI (in London).

In 2005, Mark Thomas reported on torture equipment made available by companies at the DSEI arms fair – though not directly marketed, Thomas claimed Imperial Armour were prepared to “fix a deal” on electric shock batons – it is illegal in the UK to to “directly or indirectly... promote the supply and delivery” of such weapons, described by Amnesty International as a "universal tool of the torturer".

Key information

Based in: South Africa

Builds: clothing, uniforms, boots, bullet proof vests and body armour, helmets, bags, and equipment such as binoculars, belts and holsters.

Key markets: Exports to 75 countries

Programmes & Projects
Countries
Theme
Police militarisation theme

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