Major General Barney Hlatshwayo, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Joint Operations Division’s Joint Operational Headquarters says reports that the South African National Defence Force has lost equipment, weapons and ammunition on missions and that some of this had fallen in the hands of insurgents were wrong.
“Allegations that we lost equipment, weapons and ammunition and that this fell into rebel hands are not true,” he told a media briefing Friday.
“We lost some equipment through theft when we were still part of ONUB (United Nations Mission in Burundi) because of where we were based and because people would break through walls to get to the equipment. All that was reported.
“When I became GOC in 2005, one of the areas I wanted addressed was the whole issue of equipment accounting. This is still a challenge, which we are addressing between ourselves and C LOG (Chief Logistics) to look at assuring that we account for all the equipment,” he said.
”Of the equipment that was identified [as missing] in the board of inquiry, most of it has been identified and recovered in the Republic of South Africa.” Hlatshwayo says there is still one or two items missing and Reserve Force officers have been appointed to follow the trail.
“[Thus] it is not true that our weapons were lost and in the hands of the rebels.”
Hlatshwayo also said security at the SA camp in Bujumbura, known as “Modderfontein” has also been substantially improved. “Broadly, there is a great improvement in security. Modderfontein base in Bujumbura is better secured than those we had under ONUB. Our soldiers are solely responsible, we protect ourselves.
“There is still theft from time to time, but it is petty theft of diesel and vehicle betteries, but not main equipment. We have also had some successes and some culprits have been arrested.
Department of Defence head of communications Simphiwe Dlamini added that the Secretary of Defence had “ordered a massive intervention regarding the total inventory of equipment, even physical buildings so we can account for each and every little item of equipment that we have. We can give more detail later.”