101 Field Workshop praised for sterling vehicle repair work

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Proof positive the people and skills needed to maintain and keep military vehicles serviceable are still available in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) comes from the landward force’s Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape.

CTC is home to 101 Field Workshop where mechanics, auto electricians and diesel mechanics along with supporting mechanical skills provided by apprentices and journeymen repaired no less than 60 vehicles in a calendar month. This achievement in March is reported by Lieutenant Selogile Leshago, the unit’s corporate communication officer as “a remarkable stride” to repair and ensure ongoing serviceability of – in many instances – vehicles in service for 30 years and longer.

To mark the 60-vehicle achievement, 101 Field Workshop was honoured with a visit by the Chief Director Force Preparation, Major General Patrick Dube. He thanked the Technical Service Corps (TSC) personnel at Lohathla for a job well done repairing “much-needed military vehicles”.

“This is where prime mission equipment is being repaired for deployment. We rely on you to repair equipment and you must continue to assist us in getting equipment ready. Let us concentrate on what we are here to do and do so to the best to our abilities. In that way, we will restore the dignity of the SA Army to its rightful glory. You are doing a great job,” the two-star is reported as telling the men and women whose black berets sport a prancing stallion and lightning bolt.

It was not all praise with constructive criticism as regards the workshops and he is reported as saying “there is improvement needed”.

On “doing contrary” to technical college teaching, Dube pointed out the occupational health and safety risks and possibilities of injury. He told unit personnel apprentices will in future be moved to 101 – “they must learn from you. I’m coming back to inspect your workshops!”

As a measure – not empirical – the first 10 years of Cuban military technicians and mechanical personnel in South Africa saw over seven thousand seven hundred military vehicles repaired, a presentation to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) said last year. Additionally, Logistics Division Brigadier General BG Mtsweni told parliamentarians, Cubans “inspected” more than 14 000 vehicles.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise this month (April) told a Parliamentary questioner Project Thusano, the Cuban/South African military technical assistance agreement, would be reviewed when it expired in 2025. Her response indicated some Thusano contracts would not be renewed while others could be extended. She told Russel Cebekhulu of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) that the terms of the contract are definitely going to be reviewed to the best interest of both parties.