Military justice, in common with its civilian counterpart, is not generally known for speed as evidenced in the theft of weapons from a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) base in Centurion.
The theft was uncovered in December 2019 thanks to information supplied by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais. Nine months later he told defenceWeb the initial urgency around the case was no longer there and he would be asking questions of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
He said at the time the silence around the Tek Base weapons theft was another indicator of poor discipline in the SANDF.
“The perpetrators must be held accountable as must those on whose watch the thefts, reportedly over an 80 day period, took place,” he said then.
This week he shared the Ministerial response to his questions on the issue with defenceWeb.
Mapisa-Nqakula informed Marais charges have been brought against 14 SANDF personnel, without identifying which service or unit they are in. They will, on an as yet unnamed date, appear in “the Court of a Senior Military Judge for trial” on charges of housebreaking and theft and an alternative charge of negligent loss of firearms.
All 18 R4 assault rifles stolen from Tek Base have, according to Mapisa-Nqakula, been recovered. Two of three 9 mm pistols stolen were also recovered and details of the still missing third were “circulated”.
The weapons were traced to and found in Kwa-Thema, Springs and Benoni township Daveyton in eastern Gauteng.
After the theft, 27 SA Army Engineer Formation personnel were questioned by military police and 12 charged with housebreaking and theft, alternatively, negligent loss of firearms. On 27 December 2019 they first appeared at a Military Court in Thaba Tshwane. On 18 August 2020 charges against seven suspects were withdrawn.