The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) had just on 33,000 rounds of ammunition lost or stolen in the financial years 2013/14 and 2014/15 and 18 firearms went missing in the same period.
This was revealed by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in answer to a question posed by FF+ defence and security spokesman Pieter Groenewald.
By far the majority of the ammunition missing – 32,400 R4 rounds – was allegedly stolen from the Lenz military base south of Johannesburg in April 2013. The Minister’s reply indicates five suspects were arrested and their trial is ongoing in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court.
Ten 9 mm pistols, a pair of .303 hunting rifles and six R4 assault rifles are included in the list of weapons either taken unlawfully or lost. Groenewald maintains this is worrying because the weapons and ammunition are “in particular” used in cash-in-transit robberies, shopping mall hold-ups and in farm attacks.
“It smacks of poor management and a lack of control and discipline in the defence force and speedy action has to be taken to remedy the problem. I will be asking further questions of the Minister in an effort to assist in getting to the bottom of this problem,” he said.
Mapisa-Nqakula does not give full details of each incident but one shows a 9mm Z88 pistol was stolen from the northern region HQ of the Military Police last November. It was recovered a fortnight later by the special investigation branch of the MPs, a suspect was arrested and charged and has been sentenced to five years in jail.
In another of the lost firearm incidents her reply indicates “a suspect was found guilty and fined R1 500 and 180 days detention suspended for three years”. Another suspect was declared unfit to “possess a firearm” with the docket for the theft of two .303 rifles still being investigated.