The Department of Defence (DoD) has informed parliament of some of its highlights during the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year, with numerous successes reported on the border security front.
Secretary for Defence Gladys Sonto Kudjoe this week told the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) that between 1 April and 30 June 2020, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed 15 sub-units in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North-West Provinces under the border safeguarding Operation Corona.
Corona successes for the first quarter of the current financial year include the recovery of eight weapons, the apprehension of 1 115 illegal foreigners, the arrest of 172 criminals, the recovery of 32 stolen vehicles, the confiscation of 3 852 kg of dagga, the recovery of 338 head of livestock and the confiscation of R23 million worth of contraband goods.
In terms of search and rescue (Operation Arabella), the SANDF provided assistance in the casualty evacuation of a passenger who suffered a heart attack aboard the Queen Mary 2, 216 nautical miles South West of the Coast of Durban on 2 April. An Oryx helicopter from 15 Squadron successfully retrieved the patient in challenging conditions and delivered him safely to hospital for urgent treatment.
On 6 May 2020, an Oryx helicopter from 15 Squadron conducted a casualty evacuation seven nautical miles offshore of Park Rynie in the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. A sailor on board a bulk motor carrier fell ill and had to be evacuated to a hospital facility in Durban.
The SANDF has supported the national effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (Operation Notlela) from 24 March 2020 to date. Some 20 000 personnel are deployed on Operation Notlela duties. Notlela has been extended until 30 September.
In terms of regional security the SANDF continued to provide Force Structure Elements to the United Nations peace support operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of Operation Mistral. These included the deployment of a SANDF Specialist Contingent in Kinshasa; Force Intervention Battalion Group in Sake Base and Composite Helicopter Unit in Goma.
“Due to the need to harness the limited number of operationally available SA Navy platforms for deployment in Operation Notlela, it was decided that there will be no Op Copper long range deployment in the Mozambique Channel during Q1,” the Department of Defence said.
In the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year, the SANDF flew 3 380 hours and spent 3 290 hours at sea. For the SA Air Force this includes 969 force employment hours, 76 VIP hours and 2 334 force preparation hours. The Navy spent 2 826 force employment hours at sea and 463 force preparation hours at sea.
By 30 June, the DoD had spent 22% of its budget for 2020/21 (R12 billion out of R55.3 billion for the year).
Under-expenditure of R185 million for Air Defence in the first quarter was the result of the closure of local and international businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The closure of Denel largely due to persistent, but necessary, lockdown regulations had negatively impacted on deliverables directly related to planned cash flow,” the DoD said.
Under-expenditure for Maritime Defence amounted to R108 million due to the coronavirus lockdown. This had an impact on the maintenance and repair of ships. “Armscor and DOD procurement experienced no bids or bidders not meeting the required criteria. Available contractors shifted the delivery target to the right, negatively affected spares availability, required for the maintenance and repair of ships. The latter had a direct impact on the availability and readiness of Navy platforms.”
The General Support component of the SANDF overspent by R350.786 million mainly due to the centralised procurement of all personal protective equipment (PPE), equipment and the establishment of quarantine/isolation facilities etc. required by the DOD to support efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus. R344 million was paid in this regard at the end of the first quarter of the current financial year.