Ongoing efforts to eliminate and eradicate all forms of crime from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) have netted its biggest fish to date with the arrest as a suspect on charges of corruption and fraud of an SA Army major general, tipped by some to become the first female chief of the landward force.
She, along with other suspects, was arrested earlier this month in a sting operation that followed “a lengthy joint investigation” which saw the SANDF’s Military Police and Defence Intelligence divisions working closely together.
The top suspect is Major General Nontobeko Mpaxa who holds the post of Director: Force Preparation in the SA Army, the largest service component of the SANDF.
Fifty-two-year-old Mpaxa appeared in the Thaba Tshwane military court days after she was arrested and was released on bail. Reports have it she was given notice of intention to suspend her from duty while further investigations are underway.
The arrest is apparently in connection with a company supplying rations to the defence force as well as for her allegedly not declaring her interests. One of these is a company whose address is allegedly given as the SANDF Intelligence College in Pretoria, where Mpaxa was at one time commandant.
The investigation into her and other suspects goes back at least 10 years to 2007 when she was Officer Commanding the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohathla. She was subsequently promoted to brigadier general and given command of the SA Army Intelligence Formation prior to her next promotion and the position of Director: Force Preparation.
Her arrest and those of other suspects is in line with efforts led by SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, to rid the force of criminal elements, whether they be responsible for common theft or for sophisticated crimes including corruption and fraud, the SANDF said.
An indication of the levels of crime, including theft, in the SANDF came in an answer to a Parliamentary question in October. Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald was told there were 272 reported cases of theft from military bases and installations in the 2016 calendar year. Cash, computer equipment, weapons and ammunition were among items stolen prompting Groenewald to say the “plundering” of SANDF assets was indicative of a collapse in the force’s management structure.