SANDF pays millions for “cosmetic” repairs to Samil trucks


Repairs to South Africa’s doughty home built Samil trucks, still in daily use by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), are at the centre of major fraud allegations which will soon be opened up to public scrutiny in court.

In certain cases “repairs” done to the vehicles were literally patch jobs with masking tape used to cover holes in bodywork and then painted over before accounts totalling hundreds of thousands of Rand were sent to the SANDF for the “cosmetic” work, Afrikaans daily Beeld reported.

An investigation by the Specialist Commercial Crimes Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was requested about two years ago by SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke. This was after he apparently became suspicious of the “massive amounts” being paid by the defence force for Samil repairs.

Repair work was allegedly costing the military between R500 000 and R1 million per vehicle.

A number of repaired vehicles, mostly Samil 50s, including some fitted as food supply and storage vehicles, have been confiscated by military police.

The investigation, Beeld said, had now reached the stage where it was almost complete and ready for legal action.

According to the paper the investigation centres around two people – Eric Oelofse, a programme manager at Armscor tasked with heavy vehicle repair, and Manuel de Freitas, the owner of Impie Truck Centre and other similar businesses.

Beeld reported that initial evidence gathered pointed to work being “channelled” to certain companies through an Armscor project office. The value of the repair work contract is said to be around the R50 million mark a year.

One instance uncovered by the investigation was that of a Samil repaired at “an enormous cost”. It was scheduled to be taken to Polokwane but broke down en route and another R30 000 had to be spent before the truck was able to continue to the Limpopo capital.