Two soldiers on guard duty at Bloemfontein’s Tempe military base have been robbed of their R5 assault rifles and tied up with their own bootlaces.
The pair were on sentry duty at the main entrance to the base when they were attacked by two knife wielding men in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Gauteng Afrikaans daily Beeld reported.
The soldiers were apparently in a sentry post at Tempe’s main entrance when they were overpowered and threatened by their assailants. Their R5s were taken and they were bound with their own bootlaces before their attackers fled.
The soldiers were later found by colleagues and released.
At the time of publication no arrests had been made.
SANDF Director: Corporate Communications Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga told the paper the incident was being investigated by the military police and the SA Police Service. He confirmed the loss of a pair of R5 assault rifles and a military radio in the incident.
“We have also appointed a commission of enquiry to establish exactly what happened,” he said.
Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in September 2012 noted that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) lost or had stolen 51 firearms, including a machine gun and a grenade launcher, between 2009 and 2012, including 38 assault rifles (R5, R4 and R1). In Apr–May 2012 9 automatic assault rifles were stolen or lost (3 x R4 and 6 x R5). The weapons were in service with Joint Operations, the SA Army, SA Military Health Service and SA Air Force when they disappeared.
In 2010, then Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu said that in 2009, DoD firearms losses included five 9 mm pistols; six 5.56 mm rifles; seven 7.62 mm rifles; one 7.70 mm rifle; six 0.22 (5.56 mm) rifles; four 60 mm mortars; one 81 mm mortar; three 88 mm rocket launchers (probably out of service bazookas); two 40 mm grenade launchers; and one 70 mm rocket launcher (most likely a pod for air-to-ground rockets). Sisulu stated that that 142 weapons had gone missing in 2007, seven in 2008 and 36 in 2009.
The Department of Defence bar-coded firearms with dot peen machines in order to identify firearms as DoD property and to ensure compliance in accordance to the Firearms Control Act. By 2012 a total of 40 000 firearms have already been dot peened (bar-coded).
The SA Police Service also regularly loses firearms – some 1335 SA Police Service firearms were reported lost or stolen during the financial year April 2011 to March 2011 – 101 of these weapons were were rifles, 46 were shotguns and the rest were handguns. 3226 SAPS firearms disappeared in 2009-10, with 2944 disappearing in 2008-09, and 2507 were lost or stolen in 2007-08. The recovery rate for lost or stolen police firearms was just 7%, according to the opposition Democratic Alliance.