Fifty-seven R4 and R5 assault rifles, standard issue for South African soldiers, were either stolen or lost in a 32 month period, according to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
She was responding to a question posed by Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald.
No dates are given in the official Parliamentary reply but the missing assault rifles, along with a variety of handguns, are among eight cases still under investigation. He wanted the Minister to supply details of lost or stolen weapons and ammunition over the period 1 April 2017 to 31 August this year.
Another part of Mapisa-Nqakula’s reply to the FF+ parliamentarian has it that 7 618 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition either went missing or were stolen during the same period.
Other ammunition no longer in SA National Defence Force magazines and/or weapons stores includes 340 rounds of 5.45 mm and 7.62 mm rounds used by light machineguns (LMGs) and assault rifles, smaller quantities of 9.19 and 12.7 mm ammunition as well as a single stun grenade and a yellow smoke grenade. There is no information on from which bases/units the weapons and ammunition disappeared.
Other missing or stolen weapons the former Commando soldier was told of include 10 Z88s, five Berettas, four Stars, a pair of Sig Sauers and one each of Glock and Vector handguns. All use 9 mm ammunition. He was also bluntly told “none” of the lost/stolen weapons and ammunition had been recovered at the time of the question being answered – 20 October.
Mapisa-Nqakula did not, according to her reply as provided by PMG (Parliamentary Monitoring Group), answer Groenewald on successful prosecutions for lost or stolen weapons and ammunition and what measures – if any – have been instituted to prevent further theft and/or loss of military weapons.