The tentacles of corruption appear to have spread into at least some higher levels of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) with a task team investigating allegations regarding vehicle maintenance and acquisition of rapidly deployed and assembled bridges.
This investigation is coupled to another into repair and maintenance on the military’s Class B vehicles, mainly Samil trucks. Gauteng Afrikaans daily Beeld reports “top generals and senior officers” are receiving 10% commission on orders placed for vehicle repairs.
Contracts for repairs and maintenance on construction and earthmoving equipment operated by the SA Army’s Engineer Formation apparently awarded to an American company are also being investigated. The paper reports that since 2009 contracts worth more than R200 million have apparently gone to American Products for earthmoving equipment repairs.
Some of this repaired equipment is still standing unused at a military base while invoices and payments have been processed three times for it. The same has apparently happened with at least some Samil trucks with invoices submitted and payment allegedly authorised four times with the trucks remaining unusable.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed to Beeld an anti-corruption team with representatives from all law enforcement agencies was investigating.
The B class vehicles investigation was handed to SA Revenue Services’ special investigation unit last year. The resignation of its head, Johan van Loggerenberg, has apparently not stopped further contracts being awarded for military truck maintenance.
In March last year, the SANDF said it had brought about 100 Cuban mechanics to South Africa to do maintenance and repair work on Samil trucks. In addition to getting trucks back on the road the Cubans would also assist in mentoring South Africans with a view to them eventually being trained as fully-fledged mechanics.
“The Cubans are here to assist us fix vehicles and create capacity within the defence force so we can do the fixing and maintenance repairs ourselves. Until we create capacity ourselves we will be forced to continue to rely on external service providers,” Department of Defence head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini said during a media visit to Potchefstroom where some of the Cubans are based earlier this year.
A contract for the acquisition of Bailey bridges, used by the Engineer Formation to provide rapid transit over rivers has, the paper said, been transferred to the Department of Public Works.
The Formation has used a number of its Bailey bridges, some of them dating back to World War II, to provide permanent access to water and other essential services for remote communities, notably in the Eastern Cape. There is, however, no indication of what it needs up to 60 of the rapidly deployable bridge systems for. One motivation is believed to be for the bridges to be utilised in peace support operations in southern Africa becoming an “asset” for the region.
Beeld said questions asked of the Department of Public works, SA Police Service, National Treasury and the SANDF since last year still remained unanswered.