Fridge failure in Mozambique sees SA soldiers on dry rations

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South African soldiers in Mozambique as part of SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique) used dry rations for days after a “mobile pantry storage unit” went US (unserviceable) at Macomia in Cabo Delgado.

A SA National Defence Force (SANDF) supplied chilled food storage unit “broke down over the period 20 to 24 October” a statement has the recently appointed Director: Corporate Communication Brigadier General Andries Mahapa saying.

It continues “consequently” stored rations “were out of required refrigeration temperature” for four days and were “spoilt in the interim”.

“The designated health expert at Macomia declared these rations unfit for human consumption.”

The loss of food was overcome with “the SANDF further assisting the component commander in the mission area to procure fresh fruits and vegetables at the local market in accordance with standard procurement protocols”.

The spoilt rations were “deposed (sic) immediately” with a pair of “deep freezer fridges purchased and sent to Macomia”.

With the nutritional needs of soldiers a priority, “logistic personnel in the mission (presumably SAMIM) were engaged to submit new demands to replace bad rations” Mahapa is quoted as saying.

Earlier this week, soldiers told Durban’s Daily News they spent days eating “rotten food” and some subsequently had diarrhoea.

Spoilt rations in Mozambique are, in this instance, the responsibility of base logistic support personnel, who are tasked with keeping appliances, among others, working.

The incident, when taken with problems highlighted by the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC) on provision and preparation of food at military messes (base and operational), is another cause for concern affecting as it does the nutritional wellbeing of soldiers on active duty.

The DFSC told Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence last week it had identified no less than 12 issues affecting food, from supply through to obsolete catering equipment and poorly trained and unqualified “food handlers”.

To address mess and food issues, the DFSC recommends an urgent review of all mess facilities, with the intention to revise and improve post structures (including sufficient caterers), catering equipment (including equipment appropriate to feeding large numbers); cleanliness, health and safety; purchasing and storage of wet rations and fresh produce; career paths and training; and security of facilities and equipment.

The DFSC also recommends procedures and processes be reviewed to ensure timeous procurement and delivery of good quality, including fresh produce, and sufficient quantities of rations for messes and field kitchens.