Concern has been raised about the state of the SANDF following the theft of weapons and ammunition at military barracks. It emerged recently that 58 weapons, 8000 rounds of ammunition and 36 hand grenades were stolen or lost in the past three years.
The information was revealed by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in response to written parliamentary questions on the matter by the Freedom Front Plus. FF+ leader Dr Pieter Groenewald said the theft and loss of ammunition was worrying.
“It seems as if the Defence Force is unable to be proactive in addressing crime and the lack of discipline in its own ranks. The Defence Force must pay serious attention to discipline and general crime within its ranks seeing as the public is increasingly losing faith in the SANDF,” he said.
Groenewald said it was shocking to consider how much damage the stolen weapons could cause in the hands of criminals, including those involved in cash heists. “The SANDF cannot become a source of weapons and ammunition for criminals. The poor discipline and poor management of the defence force is such that it contributes to crime in South Africa and that seriously taints the reputation of the SANDF,” he said.
SANDF spokesperson Brigadier- General Mafi Mgobozi also revealed that 1705 officers had been convicted in the military court and 106 members had been arrested. Last month, three officers stationed at the Air Force headquarters had been arrested for allegedly defrauding the state.
“The three accused face charges of defrauding the state on item 40 (discounting leave) to the value of R1.1million, subsistence and travel allowance fraud using forged signatures and submission of fraudulent accommodation invoices,” he said.
DA spokesperson on defence and military veterans Kobus Marais said there was an urgent need for a fresh look at how the SANDF was managed. He said that the ongoing challenges were evidence that there was a need for strong leadership and a change in policy direction.