‘Syndicate’ robs army of booze, meat

Johnnie Walker Platinum, brandy, French Champagne, hundreds of cases of beer and almost 200kg of meat were on the menu of thieves caught stealing from army suppliers.

An order worth R861?087 was this week sent to Sibmas Trading, one of the army’s suppliers, using a falsified official army order form.

It was the second order placed within a day or two with this supplier, amounting to almost R3?million in total.

The army has now asked the military for help and the SA Police Service to take down what appears to be the syndicate behind the false orders.

Sources close to the investigation told City Press’ sister paper, Rapport, that this sort of theft had been increasing slowly but surely over the past four years.

It started out as small amounts, but over the past few weeks there were increasing orders for luxury items worth millions of rands, the sources said, adding that food and expensive liquor were particularly popular with the thieves.

Big occasions hosted by the army were often used as the reason for these orders to be delivered within days.

This compelled the army to place advertisements in Sunday newspapers to warn their suppliers of the scam.

According to the advertisement, people behind the orders use delivery points close to military units to make them appear more credible.

“Suppliers should, however, be cautious. The army does not take delivery of orders on sidewalks, in parking areas or in any other place without a military presence,” the advertisement states.

It was suspected that personnel from the army’s central procurement unit might be complicit in the fraud, sources told City Press.

Only this unit can authorise orders of R2?million or more.

The owner of Sibmas Trading, Moses Masinga, this week told City Press he smelt a rat when he was asked for a quote on a Friday morning and received the order form by the following Monday.

“The delivery was to be made to the [SA army joint support base garrison], where the purchasing unit in Pretoria is located.

“The man who phoned me introduced himself as Aubrey Masango, from this unit,” Masinga said.

“The order even came from this unit’s address. But when I made some enquiries I was told no person by that name works there and Aubrey Masango is a presenter for 702 [radio station],” Masinga added.

City Press phoned the cellphone number on the order form and “Masango” answered. He said he worked with orders for the army, but hung up when told he was talking to a journalist.

According to Masinga, an approved supplier to the army for the past three years, the army told him it could not help and he should open a docket with the police.

He also had to report the matter to an investigator with defence intelligence (formerly military intelligence).

Spokesperson for the defence department Siphiwe Dlamini said the army asked for the police to become involved after the scope of the fraud became apparent.

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