All four vehicles removed by the Military Police ten years ago are now back at Johannesburg’s National Museum of Military History. The Eland 60, Eland 90, Ferret and Ratel were refurbished by LMT (Land Mobility Technologies) prior to being put back on public display.
The Ratel, the first production unit, was officially handed back on 8 July 2015 after a R200 000 refurbishment sponsored by LMT and carried out by Jorisen Engineering on contract to LMT.
The Elands and Ferret armoured car arrived back at the museum on 27 July last year, also after being worked on by Jorisen Engineering at the behest of LMT. Jorrie Jordaan from Jorisen told defenceWeb that the two Elands were in good shape and did not take much effort to get back in running condition, and as a result Jorisen did not charge for the work, which involved things like replacing seals, bleeding the brakes etc. The Ferret was not in running condition and only received cosmetic attention from Jorisen Engineering.
All four vehicles were removed from the museum by military police in January 2005, and the museum director and two curators were briefly arrested for the possession of suspected stolen military equipment. The confiscation was over concerns over their alleged “irregular acquisition”. Although records were shown to the military police and the matter was resolved, it took ten years and strenuous efforts driven by Francois du Rand at Denel Land Systems in cooperation with the South African National Defence Force to get the vehicles released and returned.
LMT then offered to sponsor the refurbishment of all four vehicles. Stephen Tegner: Workshop Supervisor at the Museum, told defenceWeb that the two Elands were restored back to running condition while the Ferret was just given a cosmetic upgrade, as it was not running at the time of confiscation.
Tegner said that visitors are glad that the vehicles have returned and that the museum has had a positive response to the vehicles being back.
The museum is keeping the two Elands and Ratel in running condition. This involves starting them at least once a month, making sure the tyres are pumped, the steering works, the oil and water and other fluids are at the right levels etc.
Tegner said that the Museum is currently busy working on restoring a World War I German artillery piece as part of the First World War centenary. Although it is not as intense as restoring a vehicle, he said it is still quite a bit of work as the artillery piece has to have its wooden wheels rebuilt, and missing pieces replaced and items restored, such as the leather straps, seat, spades, ramrods etc.