SANDF soldiers. Picture: REUTERS
SANDF soldiers. Picture: REUTERS

The SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Lyttleton military base was robbed of arms on Monday night in what is seen as an embarrassing lapse of security.

DA defence spokesperson Kobus Marais said on Tuesday that he had heard about the theft of at least 19 R4 automatic rifles from several reliable sources and that this had been confirmed by senior generals. SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini was not available to discuss the robbery at the time of writing.

“It is outrageous to even consider that access could be gained into a supposedly highly protected military facility and further grind open a vault where ammunition is kept,” Marais said.

“Having such arms on the streets poses a threat to the safety of citizens and the security of the Republic. This yet again exposes the deterioration of the defence capabilities of the SANDF under the ANC and the political guardianship of minister [of defence and military veterans] Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

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

Marais noted that thefts of similar weapons had taken place previously at the 9 SA Infantry Battalion military base outside Cape Town and that automatic military rifles had been used in various bank and cash-in-transit heists.

He questioned how the robbers had gained access to the military base, wondering whether it was an inside job, whether the volt key had been left for the criminals, and what role the guards of the facility had played, if any.

“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,” Marais said.

“The DA will most certainly not leave this embarrassing incident unchecked, and will submit various questions to the minister 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.” 

ensorl@businesslive.co.za