Software acquitted


Software was not to blame for the death of nine soldiers at Lohatlha.Software is not to blame in a training accident involving a twin-barrelled 35mm anti-aircraft cannon during a military exercise that left nine soldiers dead and 15 wounded. This is according to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the police.

A SANDF board of inquiry (BOI) and a police investigation found that the accident during Exercise Seboka, at the SA Army Combat Training Centre, in the Northern Cape, in October, was "due to a mechanical error" and "not human negligence" or a software glitch.

Defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota said this morning that the BOI had found a mechanical failure occurred on Gun 124 when the interface between the hand motor actuator selector lever and the traverse gearbox broke.

The SA Press Association reports the technical committee found a pin failure had occurred on a similar weapon in another country and that the malfunction had not been reported to SA. "The manufacturer did not report the failure to the Republic of SA," Lekota told a press briefing.

The Northern Cape police, meanwhile, have presented their docket to the local director of public prosecutions, who will likely order a formal inquest into the event. Inquest hearings are held in public and seek to ascertain whether anyone can be held to blame for a death.

Lekota last year told the National Assembly that the accident happened "immediately after technicians had finished repairing the weapon". When fired afterwards, the cannon mount swung 90-degrees to the left and in two seconds fired eight shells.

Defence IT expert Richard Young says he is sure there was negligence. The CCII CEO says information at hand suggests the end-stops, which would have prevented the cannon from slewing outside a designated arc, were not in place.

He says the end-stops would have prevented the cannon from swinging uncontrollably and would also have disconnected the mounting`s electrical and hydraulic systems.

Young says putting in place end-stops should be a standard safety procedure.

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