The South African National Defence Force has 900 vehicles in storage at its facility at Wallmansthal, with the vast majority serviceable and ready to go within 24 hours notice. Thousands of other unserviceable vehicles are in open storage.
This emerged during a visit by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in December 2015, who was inspecting the progress of 100 Cuban personnel in maintaining and storing South African military vehicles and providing training to South African technicians as part of Operation Thusano.
At Wallmansthal there are ten humidity controlled preservation hangars that can store 100-130 vehicles each. 900 vehicles are currently in preservation storage.
Of the vehicles in preservation at Wallmansthal, this includes around 200 Samil trucks, over 150 Ratel armoured vehicles, 100 Casspirs, 100 Mambas, two dozen GV6s, 20 Zebras, 20 Skimmels, a dozen Cavallos and 30 Rooikat 1Bs, which are unserviceable and are to be upgraded to 1D standard.
The preservation process involves inspecting the vehicle, confirming the engine works, washing and cleaning filters, checking the electrical system, repairing minor faults, confirming fuel and oil levels, parking the vehicles, putting them on trestles and painting the tyres. The vehicles can be stored for five years and gotten running again in 24 hours.
Completed vehicles are issued to units to fulfil shortages and operations for replacement and the rest are preserved as reserves, according to the SA Army.
During her visit to Wallmansthal, Mapisa-Nqakula learnt that 2 400 vehicles, parked in the Armscor park at Wallmansthal, were undergoing disposal but this process was suspended as the Army realised it could bring some of the vehicles back to serviceability and use them as a source of spare parts.
Brigadier General Elvis Mathaba, Director of Army Logistics, in December said that the Army planned to reduce 515 vehicles to spares. He said it was important to preserve even non-serviceable vehicles as they could still be used for spare parts.
A dozen Cuban technicians, along with two dozen SA Army members and apprentices are involved in preservation activities at Wallmansthal.
The South African Army possess more than 10 000 A and B vehicles and is aiming to repair 4 200 of its vehicles under Operation Thusano. Ninety-three Cuban technicians arrived in South Africa in February on a year-long contract to both refurbish vehicles and assist the SANDF build capacity and train mechanics.
Army officials in December said that 1 105 Samil 20s, 1 667 Samil 50s and 1 240 Samil 100s will be repaired while 515 vehicles have been earmarked for deactivation, and a large number of vehicles will also be preserved, including 357 in long term storage and 121 in short term storage.
According to the Cuban delegation, 450 vehicles have been made serviceable again through medium repairs and 469 through light repairs for a total of 919. 2 918 vehicles have been inspected and their fate decided on.
Maintenance and repair is being done at four locations: Bloemfontein, Technical Services Unit in Lyttelton, Wallmansthal and Potchefstroom. Some Cuban personnel are working on repairing ambulances at 8 Medical Battalion in Lyttelton.
The SA Army said that Operation Thusano is part of Milestone One of the 2014 Defence Review: Arresting the Decline of the SANDF.
Due to progress with Thusano, Projects Sepula and Vistula, for the replacement of SA Army trucks and light armoured vehicles, has been deferred.