There are currently no plans for Armscor to open its one-of-a-kind Munitions Defect Centre (MDC) to the public and it will remain a facility “purely for teaching purposes”.
The MDC, which this year marks its 25th anniversary, was originally set up as an educational and teaching aid to show those involved in the production of various munitions just what the consequences can be when something goes wrong.
When first set up, under the watchful eye Harry Bouch, it was housed in a warehouse on the Pretoria West premises of Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP), now the ammunition production arm of Denel. It was then named the Defective Munitions Museum (DMM) and occupied a large, unused warehouse facility and was officially opened by the then Armscor chairman, Tielman de Waal in October 1992 with Bouch named the first curator in January the following year.
The establishment of the DMM was in response to a need identified by the then SA Explosives Board for a teaching aid to show what happens when ammunition does not perform as advertised.
It was moved to Salvokop, south-west of SA Air Force and SA Army headquarters, in 2009 and has also shrunk somewhat in size but nevertheless remains unique in what it has on display. Apart from being an annual must visit on the schedules of officers attending senior staff and other programmes at the SA War College and the SANDF Defence College, MDC is also visited by the SA Police Service, the Military Attaché Advisory Corps (MAAC) and those who work with the production of ammunition.
MDC aims to ensure knowledge gained during the investigation of munitions related accidents is not lost over the years and serves as an educational research institution to show people what to expect if something goes wrong by mishandling explosives or weapons. “This will hopefully make people more careful and prevent future accidents through negligence,” Armscor said.
Items on display include a destroyed barrel from a 140 mm howitzer after a cleaning brush was left inside the barrel; an Eland armoured car with the tip of its barrel blown off; modified Boer war artillery shells; a destroyed 30mm cannon from a Mirage F1; burst 155 mm artillery barrels and other destroyed and damaged barrels and defective munitions.
Asked what the future holds for MDC, Armscor acting senior manager corporate communication, Barileng Dichabe, said it would remain within the defence and security acquisition agency’s ambit. While it currently does not feature in any way in the recently unveiled R64 million Armscor turnaround strategy she said proposals regarding its future “can be explored and discussed for feasibility”.
“It remains a military facility and there are no plans to open it to the general public,” she added.