Transporter rolls on Oliviershoek Pass, loses Olifant main battle tank


There will be one less Olifant main battle tank on display during next week’s Armed Forces Day parade in Durban.

A transporter carrying the 60 ton tracked vehicle overturned on the Oliviershoek Pass between Harrismith and Ladysmith on Monday night, the Ladysmith Gazette reported, adding a soldier was killed and another seriously injured. A third soldier sustained moderate injuries, the KZN Midlands paper said.

The tank was damaged but there was no indication from the SA National Defence Force, the SA Army or its Armour Formation on the extent of damage at the time of publication.

Army engineers and recovery vehicles were said to be en route to the crash scene where a stop and go has been set up to assist with traffic flow.

The only reason for the transporter to be moving an Olifant tank along that specific route is for it to be part of next Tuesday’s Armed Forces Day parade in Durban. More than 400 military vehicles are expected to take part in Armed Forces Day events on 21 February, including Olifant tanks, Rooikat armoured cars, Ratels, and G5 and G6 artillery.

Oliviershoek Pass is an alternate to Van Reenen’s Pass for traffic moving between Free State, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In June 2014 another tank transporter had a similar accident on Van Reenen’s Pass. The vehicle lost its brakes and although the driver tried to stop the truck at an emergency arrestor bed, the Olifant it was carrying was thrown off the vehicle and landed in the road, damaging its turret and closing a lane.

In both cases the Olifants were coming from 1 Tank Regiment, the only tank unit in the SA Army’s Armour Formation. It is based at Tempe military base in Bloemfontein.

Picture: Ladysmith Gazette