The South African Police Service (SAPS) has arrested a member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for having in his possession 600 rounds of ammunition.
The SAPS said that on 14 January police in Phalaborwa together with the National intervention Unit (NIU) arrested a 44 year old man, who is an unemployed Senegalese national and his partner, a 40 year old South African man who is a soldier in the SANDF, for illegal possession of ammunition.
The soldier was seen carrying a bag on Spekboom Street in Phalaborwa on 14 January at around 17:30. Police officers asked to search him and during the search found 663 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. His partner was nabbed on the same date at around 19:00 at his place of residence, where 17 rounds of ammunition for a 9 mm pistol was found in his possession.
The soldier, Santos Leon Congo, was granted bail of R1 000 and his case remanded to 10 March while his accomplice Sambo Boye was remanded in custody until 23 January for bail application.
The SAPS said in a statement last week that investigations into the matter are continuing.
SANDF weapons and ammunition regularly goes missing – for example, the SANDF had just on 33 000 rounds of ammunition lost or stolen in the financial years 2013/14 and 2014/15 and 18 firearms (ten 9 mm pistols, a pair of .303 hunting rifles and six R4 assault rifles) 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 in late 2015.
32 400 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition was allegedly stolen from the Lenz military base south of Johannesburg in April 2013.
One of the most recent and serious incidents occurred in July 2016 when ammunition, weapons and explosives was stolen out of the armoury at Naval Base Simon’s Town. Reports have it that four Uzi submachineguns, four R1 assault rifles, an M1, 16 ship’s cannon munitions, 72 hand grenades and two mine detonators were taken. However, the stolen items were later recovered on a smallholding outside Eersterivier in the Western Cape and three suspects arrested. All three had family members serving in the South African Navy.
Lost and stolen weapons and ammunition are a concern as they are often used in cash-in-transit robberies, shopping mall hold-ups and in farm attacks.