Power back on at AFB Makhado after DPWI disruption


The supply of electricity has been restored to Air Force Base (AFB) Makhado after a several day outage due to issues with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

The power was cut on the afternoon of Wednesday 11 May, and restored by Saturday afternoon. In response to a defenceWeb enquiry, the South African National Defence Force Director: Corporate Communication, Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, stated that the outage was due to the Department of Defence taking over the payment of rates and taxes from the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

AFB Makhado is known as the South African Air Force’s ‘fighter town’ as the (currently grounded) fleet of Gripen fighter jets is based there, along with Hawk lead-in fighter-trainers of 85 Combat Flying School.

According to the Zoutpansberger, AFB Makhado as well as 15 South African Infantry Battalion had experienced electricity supply problems due to the transfer of responsibilities from the Department of Public Works to the Defence Works Formation (DWF).

This is not the only recent trouble the SANDF has had with electricity supply. In October 2020, the Dunnottar military base went without electricity for 19 days, and was cut off again in April 2021. In the Dunnottar case, the Department of Public Works apparently initially closed the municipal account (with Ekurhuleni Metro) but no arrangement was made for the account to be simultaneously moved to the Defence Works Formation.

In February this year, the City of Tshwane briefly cut power to SANDF buildings in Pretoria over a R3.2 million electricity bill, but this was due to the fault of the landlord not paying and not the SANDF.

Democratic Alliance shadow defence minister Kobus Marais told defenceWeb that “Having no power at military facilities and installations is not on. They should be treated as national strategic facilities and should never be without power.”

The Department of Public Works has repeatedly failed to adequately service SANDF infrastructure, forcing the SANDF to establish its Defence Works Formation in April 2011 to carry out repairs, construction and facility maintenance.

Faced with electricity outages, blocked sewage pipes and other issues in Thaba Tshwane, the Defence Works Formation was late last year tasked with managing municipal services in the military-dominated suburb of Pretoria.