The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has clarified that no one was injured nor serious damage reported on Monday when a South African Army Rooikat armoured car damaged a fence in a minor vehicle mishap at the Roodewal weapons range outside Polokwane.
The Rooikat was taking part in the practice day ahead of the Armed Forces Day Capability Demonstration that was held on Tuesday 18 February. The vehicle was recorded on a video, which was widely shared on social media, as coming fast down a berm and running out of space for a left hand turn, sending it crashing through a fence as soldiers leapt out of the way.
“There were neither injuries suffered nor damages reported,” the SANDF said in a statement.
“The SANDF can confirm that the incident happened during a practice run for the Armed Forces Day 2020 Capability Demonstration at the Roodewal Bombing Range. The Range is a controlled area that is utilised by SANDF personnel and equipment.
“It is regrettable that there are individuals who hide behind pseudonyms whilst intentionally portraying the SANDF negatively by posting and or commenting adversely against it with ill intentions of casting doubts about its personnel and equipment to the unsuspecting publics,” the SANDF statement said in response to some negative comments on social media.
Accidents and incidents happen all the time in militaries around the world and the SANDF is no exception. Many have pointed out that there were probably far more incidents with military vehicles in the 1980s, but incidents are publicised today due to the widespread presence of mobile phones.
It should also be noted that the practice day on 17 February was aimed at ironing out issues and problems ahead of the official capability demonstration on the 18th, during which a Rooikat repeated the same manoeuvre, but much more slowly and carefully and executed the turn without incident.
“Let’s be clear, mistakes like this must never be excused. We should expect, and demand, high standards from our armed forces. But at the same time these incidents should not be decontextualised and amplified beyond all proportion. Exercise restraint and use your judgement,” Darren Olivier, defence expert and Director at African Defence Review stated.