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Lack of budget hindering security of SANDF bases, property

SA Army soldiers on patrol.The shortfall in the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) budget means there is not enough money to acquire required security to physically protect all the military’s units and facilities, the Joint Standing Committee on Defence has heard.

In a briefing presented to the Committee late last year, Major General Michael Ramatswana, Chief of Military Policy, Strategy and Planning at the SANDF, stated “the shortfall on the budget, especially of tactical level military units, are insufficient to acquire and install the required security technologies (i.e. CCTV systems, biometrics, alarms, intruder detection systems, etc.).

“The required minimum physical security technologies for sensitive units or facilities have become critical to serve as a force multiplier and a deterrent measure to support the safety of guard personnel as well as the hardening of the security infrastructure of military headquarters, operational rooms, offices where classified information is stored, information and communication centres, as well as logistical and weapon depots/stores.”

Ramatswana said specialised repair services are required from the Department of Public Works to “repair security infrastructure deviancies” and that the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure through project Broekskeur needs to be rolled out to all 825 military units.

In order to improve security, the SANDF has reactivated Project Broekskeur with the aim of streamlining and prioritising the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure in cooperation with the National Department of Public Works (NDPW).

“The SANDF intends through Project Broekskeur to reprioritise, reschedule and fast track the turnaround time supported by ringfenced funding for the maintenance and upgrading of SANDF security infrastructure. It needs to be emphasised that the dependency on the NDPW to maintain current and the construction of newly required infrastructure has shown slow progress over the years,” Ramatswana said.

The presentation on the state of security at South African military bases was given following an incident at 9 South African Infantry Battalion on 14 April 2017 when five armed suspects broke into the unit magazine, overpowered seven guards and stole six weapons. In response, the number of guards was doubled and perimeter fence lighting improved. CCTV cameras will be installed when funds become available.

In his presentation Ramatswana outlined a number of security challenges being experienced by the SANDF, such as the theft of firearms, theft of rations and theft of diesel and petrol as well as sentences and fines that do not deter perpetrators and military courts that do not have jurisdiction over civilians.

According to figures in the presentation, in 2017/18 the SANDF recorded 10 cases of persons being in possession of stolen property; 39 incidents of housebreaking and theft; 69 incidents of theft of state property; 2 incidents of theft of state vehicles; 13 incidents of theft out of state vehicles and 4 incidents of negligent loss of state property. This amounted to R4.3 million worth of losses, down from R10.8 million in 2016/17 and R7.7 million in 2015/16.

Items stolen included railway tracks, ICT equipment, fuel, copper, cable, antennae, rations and weapons. In 2017/18, ten rifles and two pistols were stolen, compared to five rifles and eight pistols in 2016/17 and 11 rifles and five pistols in 2015/16.

For 2017/18, 12 rounds of ammunition was stolen, compared to 1 436 rounds in 2016/17 and 26 the year before.

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