Thirty-nine weapons stolen from SANDF in four years

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Almost all weapons lost or stolen from SA National Defence Force (SANDF) units since the 2019/20 financial year to December last year are either R1/R4 assault rifles or 9 mm pistols, with 12 weapons lost and 39 stolen.

The biggest loss was in the 2019/20 period when, according to the reply to a ministerial question, 24 weapons disappeared. Interrogation of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise’s response to Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald shows the biggest single loss was the theft of 18 R4s and two 9 mm pistols from the SA Army Engineering Formation in December 2019 (the weapons were subsequently recovered). The same period of financial reporting saw the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) area unit in North West report three thousand rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition missing.

In 2020/21, nine assault rifles disappeared from 21 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion, the SA Army Logistic Support Formation and Reserve Force unit, Tshwane Regiment, bringing that year’s tally to 11 weapons stolen and one lost.

2021/22’s figures were even lower, with one R4 and one Z88 reported lost along with 2 750 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and two Star pistols stolen.

In the next reporting period (2022/23) a lone R4 was stolen from what Potchefstroom-based 4 Artillery Regiment while two Z88 pistols were stolen from Air Force Base Makhado. Also in that year, 900 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition and 15 rounds of 9 mm ammunition were lost, along with two Beretta pistols.

For the current financial reporting period, up to December last year, the SANDF as a whole reported a .303 assigned to the Department of Defence (DoD) Logistic Support Formation, a pair of Z88 9 mm pistols stolen. Three R4 assault rifles were reported lost.

On what is being and will be done to – in Groenewald’s word “combat” – ammunition and weapons theft, Modise outlined five short, three medium and two long term preventive measures.

They include “immediate” removal of perimeter vegetation, alarm system installation, roving patrols where there are “damaged perimeter fences”, repairing damaged security lighting and security lights in military police structures and erection of pedestrian and vehicle gates inside bases and facilities.

Modise noted “crime risk surveys” have been conducted continuously since April 2018 at military units. They aim to identify weaknesses in military police structures and advise regional and area provost marshals and detachment commanders on measures to improve asset security.

The full ministerial reply can be found here.