The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) is questioning why it took three years to appoint a board of inquiry (BoI) into the theft of a handheld laser rangefinder aboard the frigate SAS Amatola in 2005 and why that only imposed a few slaps on the wrist.
FF+ defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald says the theft of the apparatus was reported in July 2005, but the BoI was only appointed in February 2008.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu in a written answer to a question by Groenewald that the handheld station keeping laser rangefinder with an approximate value of R6300 was reported as missing in July 2005 and has still not been recovered. She said the BoI was concluded in March 2008 and made a number of recommendations that were subsequently implemented. This included letters of reprimand written to two members for non-compliance with policy regulating handing and taking over procedures. “These letters were duly written.”
The officer commanding was also directed to ensure better control of the Bridge cupboard, ensure that the handing-and-taking-over process was conducted in accordance with stipulated policy, compile a Standard Operating Procedure for the handing-and-taking-over procedure in accordance with policy and ensure that the device “written off and replaced at State expense.”
Groenewald says this is not good enough. “The theft of a sensitive apparatus from a frigate of a Navy is already very worrying, but what is more worrying is that the BoI was only appointed nearly three years later to investigate the incident. The whole issue does not only attest to the slackness and ill-discipline on ground level but also on the highest management level,” Groenewald said.