SA soldiers not adequately armed to protect military bases, says defence force commission

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Members of the South African National Defence Force patrol the streets in Alexandra.
Members of the South African National Defence Force patrol the streets in Alexandra.
Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • South African troops are not adequately armed to protect military bases and facilities.
  • There's also a disproportionate allocation of military vehicles to army garrisons across the country.
  • These are some of the Defence Force Service Commission's findings, which have made several recommendations to overhaul the army.

Soldiers guarding South Africa's military bases are not adequately armed, and there is no control of who moves in and out of the facilities.

Security fences within military bases and units and on the borders are falling apart while budget constraints hamper the upgrading, maintenance and repair of security systems.

These are just some of the damning findings of the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC) that investigated almost every aspect and division of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

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Last week, SANDF human resources chief Vice Admiral Asiel Kubu presented the findings to Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Defence.

The meeting also provided the committee with an update on the implementation of recommendations made by the DFSC.

Kubu said the unauthorised occupation and subletting of military accommodation compromised military security.

"Security systems cannot be repaired or maintained due to expired contracts. Increasing levels of crime and theft was reported at some units, especially at Personnel Services School. There is a need to enhance the working relations – especially on intelligence – between the SANDF, the State Security Agency, the Department of Home Affairs and the SAPS," Kubu said.

The DFSC recommended a complete review of all security.

This would include looking at gates, doors, locks, burglar proofing, electronic equipment and alarms at facilities.

It's also been recommended that fences and security be urgently upgraded as a "military imperative".

Kubu outlined the recommendations. "A proper post-review structure and security system be prioritised and implemented to safeguard each facility. Compulsory and proper security and awareness training for all guards and security personnel. Compulsory musketry and self-defence exercises for guards and security personnel.

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"Security personnel to be adequately armed [with] weapons, ammunition, torches and bulletproof gear. Electronic and night vision equipment be standardised and made available to Operation Corona bases."

The DFSC also wanted the contracts for the maintenance and repair of security systems at military units to be reviewed as it looked to do maintenance and repairs in-house.

It has also highlighted the need for guards and security personnel to be trained in proper crime intelligence methods to anticipate and prevent criminal incidents.

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Regarding military vehicles, the DFSC found there was a lack of available and serviceable duty buses and military vehicles across all units and bases.

"Protracted procurement processes and systems cause a delay in the maintenance and repair of military vehicles. The fair and transparent distribution of new military vehicles and duty buses to military bases and units is questionable.

"Budget constraints hamper the maintenance of a serviceable fleet, and there is a protracted system to dispose of unserviceable vehicles," Kubu said.

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