The Good Friday robbery that saw 9 SA Infantry Battalion lose six assault rifles and suffer the ignominy of having some soldiers held at gunpoint has been labelled “concerning” by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV).
The committee issued a statement on Easter Sunday stating “military bases are supposed to be the most secure sites considering the kind of weaponry kept on site”. Giving the statement more gravitas is its date of issue – over a holiday long weekend – and that Parliament is currently in recess.
According to the statement PCDMV chair Malusi Motimele is “alarmed robbers are of late targeting military bases, more so because the stolen weapons will surely be used for nefarious purposes”.
No official statement on the robbery, which took place at the Khayelitsha headquarters of the infantry battalion tasked to provide extra security during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Zuma on February 9 this year, has to date been issued by the Directorate Corporate Communications of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) but the robbery was confirmed.
Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi is reported by News24 at the weekend as saying no further details were available and officials were at the scene.
Motimele mentioned the robbery at Naval Base Simon’s Town, headquarters of the SA Navy fleet in July last year when assault rifles, grenades and machineguns were stolen from the base armoury. Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato said at the time it was likely the stolen weapons would end up being used by gangsters. Western Cape provincial government chief whip Mark Wiley warned the Simon’s Town theft could have been prevented had naval authorities heeded warnings of a developing climate of decay and lawlessness at the base.
As PCDMV chair, Motimele has called for an urgent review of security at all military bases across the country to ensure “they meet the required standards”. He also indicated a meeting would be convened urgently with the Department of Defence (DoD) to “ascertain measures are put in place to reverse these worrying incidents”.