NEWS & ANALYSIS

Theft of arms exposes SANDF's lack of defence readiness - Kobus Marais

DA MP says criminals stole at least 19 R4 rifles from the Littleton Military Base

Embarrassing theft of arms exposes SANDF's lack of defence readiness

In this time of peace and goodwill the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has let the nation down as criminals were allowed to stroll into the Littleton Military Base, and walk off with at least 19 R4 automatic rifles, manufactured for extreme warfare. It is outrageous to even consider that access could be gained into a supposedly highly protected military facility and further grind open a volt where ammunition is kept.

Having such arms on the streets poses a threat to the safety of citizens and the security of the Republic.

This is a stark reminder of earlier thefts of similar weapons at the 9SAI military base outside Cape Town, as well as the use of similar military rifles in various bank and cash-in-transit heists. This yet again exposes the deterioration of the defence capabilities of the SANDF under the ANC and the political guardianship of Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

What does this hold for South Africans in a time when they need to know the SANDF will keep them safe, as per the requirements of Section 200 of the Constitution? It certainly poses various questions about the preparedness of the SANDF to not only protect us as citizens but the supposedly safe and protected military installations all over South Africa.

Some of the many questions are:

Was the volt key left for the criminals?

· Was it an inside job?

· Where were the guards, and why could they not defend a strategic military installation?

· Why were guards at a military installation  not able to prevent the criminals from accessing a supposedly secure facility?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has on a number of occasions  questioned, both in the National Assembly and through Parliamentary Question, the readiness and preparedness of the SANDF to effectively respond to various military threats, and its capabilities to meet its constitutional mandate.

This embarrassing robbery is a symptom of bigger problems in the SANDF.

This incident demands that SANDF commanding officers, the Secretary of Defence and the Minister of Defence cancel their holidays, to launch an investigation and track down the stolen arms. It is their constitutional responsibility and is the least they should do, in order to show South Africans they are serious about fighting crime and upholding the security of the country.

The DA will most certainly not leave this embarrassing incident unchecked, and will submit various questions to the Minister, in order to get to the bottom of this incident. Persons must be held accountable and harsh punishment must follow to show that safety and security are national priorities.

Statement issued by Kobus Marais - DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, 24 December 2019