Lack of weapons control a disgrace
Reports indicate that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is unable to account for many weapons, vehicles and other military equipment that was left over from the controversial closure of the commando units. Altogether 136 commando units have closed and another 183 units are scheduled to shut before April 2008. Of the units that have been disbanded, only 57 of the units have had all their weapons accounted for and their books closed.
In the Eastern Cape alone, approximately 146 R4 rifles and 100 vehicles remain unaccounted for. Fifty R1 rifles are missing from the Soutpansberg area. The SANDF cannot account for the whereabouts of rocket launchers (RPGs) and a Z-88 cannon. The article in Die Burger also reports that there is an aeroplane shed filled with weapons and other military items that remains unguarded.
This state of affairs is a national disgrace. With all the political pressure placed on private citizens in possession of legal firearms for self defence and hunting, the fact that the military itself cannot control its own weapons presents a much more serious concern.
The controversial rush to close the commando units down not only created a serious security vacuum in rural areas, which cannot be policed using conventional urban methods, but now appears to have actually aided crime by allowing weapons to fall into the hands of unknown persons.
The DA will be submitting questions to the Minister of Defence to account for the lax control over weapons in the care of the military which not only endangers the general public, but poses a serious threat to national security.
(The text of the questions that the DA will be submitting follows below.)
a) Is the Minister aware that weapons are missing from the SANDF stocks b)how does the Minister of Defence account for the fact that weapons, vehicles and other military equipment have gone missing since the closure of the commando units c) who is going to be held responsible for the lax control over these weapons d) what measures is the SANDF putting into place to ensure the return / recovery of these weapons which pose a threat to the general public and to national security e) what measures is the SANDF putting into place to prevent this from happening again with the remaining commando units
11:01:07 am . 07/03/07 . MyPE . Democratic Alliance (DA) .