Army Foundation steps into the breach post CTC fire

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In the wake of a runaway fire earlier this month at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in the Northern Cape Province the SA Army Foundation pulled out the stops in efforts to ensure affected military personnel have the basics in accommodation.

The Centurion headquartered Foundation, with general manager Angel Ramphela at the helm, started moving tents, beds, stretchers and mattresses to assist, Defence Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) reports. The first batch reportedly arrived at CTC on Friday, 13 October.

The temporary accommodation and bedding supplied by the Foundation comprised 65 16×16 tents, 1 330 blankets, 1 330 mattresses and 1 330 stretchers.

About 1 300 personnel lost their shelters and personal belongings in the wake of the fire that claimed the lives of six soldiers who were preparing for Exercise Vuk’uhlome. Three others were seriously injured in the incident at Lohatlha on 6 October.

The fire and its aftermath attracted the attention of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV), which heard from SANDF Chief of Staff (CoS) Lieutenant General Michael Ramantswana last week (12 October). He told parliamentarians equipment lost in the fire included 12 Casspir armoured personnel carriers and “14 other Army vehicles”.

Reports, not confirmed by either the SANDF DCC or the Department of Defence (DoD), are that 14 refurbished Casspirs and 15 trucks were burnt “beyond economical repair” during the fire. Other equipment which went up in flames is reported as including mobile pantries, a field hospital container and equipment, ablution trailers, fuel and water bunkers and “other main mission vehicles”.

Ahead of the Foundation moving much-needed temporary accommodation and sleep equipment, it provided a batch of toiletries, including sanitary towels, two days after the 6 October fire. Also quick to respond was Gift of the Givers who, according to a social media post, reacted to an SANDF “request for clothing including underwear, hygiene packs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, face cloths, hand towels, sanitary pads, energy drinks and blankets”. African Defence Review (ADR) Director Darren Olivier called the Gift of the Givers’ response “a nice gesture” as it bypassed SANDF and Department of Defence (DoD) procurement rules and procedures allowing speedy delivery of essential personal items.

DoD Head of Communication (HoC) Siphiwe Dlamini, in obvious response to the Gift of the Givers’ assistance, said the support was “appreciated”. Elaborating he noted in spite of its “dire financial circumstances” the national defence force “works hard to adhere to our military doctrine pertaining overall logistics support to our troops with respect to our deployments”. The SANDF, he added, had not approached or requested material support from individuals or corporates.

The 67-year-old Army Foundation is, according to its website, the preferred supplier of authorised products, services and benefits to employees of the SA Army and their legal dependents that the state does not provide through normal conditions of service.