2006-10-31 : SANDF weapons go Awol in Burundi

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2006-10-31 : SANDF weapons go Awol in Burundi

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2006-10-31 14:22

Landing up in hands of rebels
SANDF weapons go Awol in Burundi
October 31, 2006

Karyn Maughan

South African National Defence Force troops were sent to Burundi to keep the peace, but it appears poor management and the theft of South African weapons, which are ending up in rebel hands, are fuelling the conflict.

Sources have confirmed that more than R27 million worth of supplies, as well as millions of rand in vehicles, guns, ammunition and bombs, have vanished from the South African army base in Burundi over the past four years.

The missing vehicles are believed to include several Casspirs, a Mazda ambulance, Isuzu bakkies, a fire-fighting truck, Land Rover Defenders, trucks, a water tanker, a Yamaha motorcycle, forklift trucks, Toyota Condor vans, several cars, a tractor and a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

It has also been established that among the weapons missing are 40 mortar bombs, 54 R4 rifles, four R5 rifles, a sniper rifle, two 12-gauge shotguns, eight machineguns, eight pistols and 27 grenade-launchers.

A 15 KVA generator is also understood to be missing.

While army authorities have previously blamed poor accounting practices for losses, a newspaper investigation has found that on one occasion at least 50 missing SANDF mortar bombs - out of 80 bombs stolen using an army-owned Land Rover - were found in an FNL Phalipe-Hutu rebel group camp in Kiriri, Burundi.

The FNL has been blamed for mortar attacks on the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, in which at least 300 people have died.

It has also been learned that a case of 5.56 ammunition - part of 1.5 million SANDF-owned rounds that disappeared in Burundi - was found in the possession of Burundian government forces in 2004.

As yet, the SANDF has failed to disclose how many millions of rand worth of weapons, vehicles and supplies it has lost to mismanagement or theft.

Disturbingly, it also seems that the SANDF has no idea of how many weapons are in its possession.

Now, following a scathing auditor-general's report into the Department of Defence's "inadequate" and "deficient" accounting practices, the Democratic Alliance is to ask the defence ministry in parliament today to answer claims that nearly 70 army vehicles, more than 110 weapons and items of equipment, and millions of rand worth of supplies have disappeared from the South African army base in Burundi.

The Minister of Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota has conceded that dealing with the logistics crisis is one of his department's main challenges.

Last month, he divulged to parliament that the following pieces of weaponry "have been lost or stolen on peace support missions": 47 680 x 5.56mm rifle rounds, 1 800 x 7.62mm rifle rounds 97 x 60mm mortar bombs, 46 x 5.56 mm R4 rifles, three light machine guns, two 9mm pistols, two grenades and four R4 magazines.

Lekota stressed that the SANDF staff were instructed to safeguard arms and ammunition and rectify any "deficiencies" that they noticed in any such security arrangements.

But, according to Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, there was "no evidence" that cases of losses or damages to army property were followed up "on a regular basis".

"In certain instances, cases are not reported or actions taken to recover losses from members," he said.

To make matters worse, Fakie said, "various files pertaining to losses" were not submitted to the Auditor-General and loss and damage registers were "not properly maintained".

"Critical information was omitted and was not regularly checked by management to ensure accuracy and completeness," he said.

This year, for the first time, the department's financial statements did not disclose just how much the loss of its property was costing taxpayers.
In its 2004/2005 report, the department's financial statements totalled the cost of the loss of defence property at more than R48.7m.

This year's financial statements also failed to provide any financial value for the SANDF's weapon and ammunitions inventory, effectively indicating that the Department of Defence has no idea of how many weapons are currently in its possession.

Disturbingly, the report noted that the department's "unauthorised expenditure awaiting authorisation" amounted to over R495m.

Fakie, who hit the defence department with a qualified audit for the fifth year in a row, slammed the SANDF for the following:

"Inadequate" control over the "general administration of demands".

"Deficient" controls over the issue and receipt of vouchers.

"Internal controls over the security and general administration of vehicles, weapons and ammunition were found to be deficient".
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GOSA
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