FF+ urges release of Lohatlha report
Cape Town - The Freedom Front Plus on Tuesday urged Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to release the report into the 2007 shooting at Lohatlha in which nine soldiers died.
In written reply to a parliamentary question by Pieter Groenewald of the FF Plus, Sisulu confirmed the report on the accident had been completed.
However, due to the sensitivity of the matter, the chief of the defence force would personally inform the minister about the findings, should she request it, she said.
At the time, a 35mm anti-aircraft gun went out of control and the operator killed nine colleagues.
Sisulu also said that since 2005, 21 members of the SA National Defence Force had died during training (7) and exercises (14).
Groenewald said on Tuesday that Sisulu should make the report known immediately.
Her predecessor, Mosiuoa Lekota, had at the time given an undertaking in Parliament that the investigation into the Lohatlha shooting would be transparent and that nothing would be hidden.
"The release of the report is necessary to ensure that Parliament fulfils its oversight role," Groenewald said.
The public was also entitled to know what went wrong and which preventative measures had been taken to ensure a similar incident did not happen again.
"There are many unanswered questions as to what had gone wrong and whether there had been any negligence and who was responsible for it.
"It was said that the mechanical safety pin of the gun had broken but the gun also has static safety pins which pegs the firing area.
"If there was any negligence someone has to be held responsible and accountable for it.
"I will be submitting an official question to the minister about the report," Groenewald said.
It was also worrying that in eight of the deaths since 2007, the boards of inquiry into the incidents had not been finalised.
This included the deaths of three parachute soldiers.
If the investigation into the cause had not been finalised, the same mistake could be repeated and more soldiers could die during training.
"The minister will also have to answer as to why these investigations have not been finalised," Groenewald said.