CARRY ON COLONEL

Colonel also turned reg­i­men­tal HQ into a park­ing lot for cricket fans — and kept cash

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By SIPHE MACANDA

This army base boss sleeps in a bar

The of­fi­cer com­mand­ing the army’s East Rand Reg­i­ment base in Benoni faces a string of al­le­ga­tions over se­cu­rity at the reg­i­men­tal head­quar­ters where large amounts of am­mu­ni­tion and arms are stored.

Lieu­tenant-Colonel Lu­cas Saliwa is ac­cused of leas­ing the base for pub­lic park­ing when cricket matches are played at the nearby Wil­low­moore Park ground, then pock­et­ing the money.

More se­ri­ous charges con­cern three damn­ing re­ports by se­nior De­fence Depart­ment of­fi­cials that have raised red flags over se­cu­rity mea­sures.

Among the con­cerns are sub­stan­dard locks on the am­mu­ni­tion store, poor ac­cess con­trol to the base, bro­ken CCTV cam­eras, a sec­ond-rate alarm sys­tem, sub­stan­dard light­ing and the lack of a valid am­mu­ni­tion cer­tifi­cate to store am­mu­ni­tion. The re­ports also noted that Saliwa was the only per­son with keys to the am­mu­ni­tion store.

The Sun­day Times has learnt that the mil­i­tary po­lice are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing a com­plaint of mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and fraud against Saliwa.

Dis­ci­pline has dropped

In an af­fi­davit, a se­nior army of­fi­cer al­leges that the unit’s dis­ci­pline and se­cu­rity stan­dards have dropped dra­mat­i­cally since Saliwa was ap­pointed of­fi­cer com­mand­ing.

The of­fi­cer said al­though the pub on the base was still sup­posed to be op­er­a­tional, Saliwa now lived there, and his clothes could be seen all hang­ing in the bar.

This was con­firmed by an­other of­fi­cer, who said they had been com­plain­ing about Saliwa’s con­duct and man­age­ment style.

“He lives in the bar. Tell me, how are we sup­posed to re­spect him as the OC?” the of­fi­cer said.

The re­ports, which the Sun­day Times has seen, in­clude one by the de­fence force’s in­spec­tor-gen­eral as well as a mil­i­tary se­cu­rity mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion re­port and a se­cu­rity eval­u­a­tion of reg­i­ment re­port.

They were com­piled fol­low­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­tween April and Au­gust.

In its risk anal­y­sis, the mil­i­tary se­cu­rity mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion re­port, dated Au­gust 24, scored the unit’s level of com­pli­ance at 15%.

The se­cu­rity eval­u­a­tion re­port, dated June, de­clared the unit’s weapon store as a red (risky) area.

The in­spec­tor-gen­eral’s re­port di­rectly ac­cused Saliwa, rec­om­mend­ing that he be re­moved.

The re­port said sol­diers on the base are not be­ing ro­tated as they should be and that this has led to mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion. “Fraud will pre­vail,” it said.

Some of the most damn­ing find­ings of the re­ports are:

The weapon store is too small and has only one ser­vice­able safe. The se­cu­rity door is locked with old locks, which are not ap­proved se­cu­rity locks;

The alarm sys­tem is un­ser­vice­able and there are no intruder-de­tec­tion alarms;

The alarm sys­tem is not linked to any emer­gency ser­vices; Se­cu­rity light­ing is not op­er­a­tional; and The reg­i­ment did not have a valid cer­tifi­cate to store am­mu­ni­tion.

The re­ports also lam­basted Saliwa for keep­ing the keys to the weapon store, which is against pre­scribed mil­i­tary pro­ce­dures.

“The weapon store keys must not be han­dled and kept by the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer alone. The com­mand­ing of­fi­cer must make sure that du­pli­cate keys and alarm codes are sealed, stored and con­trolled . . . to prevent sin­gle ac­cess to the weapon store,” the mil­i­tary se­cu­rity eval­u­a­tion re­port said.

The re­port also said vis­i­tors to the base should be searched, but a Sun­day Times team was not searched when it vis­ited the base re­cently.

Other dodgy bases

Saliwa re­fused to speak to the Sun­day Times dur­ing the visit.

Con­tacted later for com­ment, he said: “I am not at lib­erty to talk with jour­nal­ists. As sol­diers we do not talk to jour­nal­ists, talk to my head­quar­ters.”

A de­fence force spokesman, Bri­gadierGen­eral Mafi Mgob­ozi, con­firmed the ex­is­tence of the in­spec­tor-gen­eral’s re­port but did not re­spond to ques­tions about Saliwa or about se­cu­rity is­sues at the base.

He said the de­fence force recog­nised “the In­spec­tion Re­port No: 12/IG and there­fore is in a process of rec­ti­fy­ing all the al­le­ga­tions and con­cerns that were found”.

Kobus Marais, the DA’s spokesman on de­fence, said poor se­cu­rity mea­sures were not unique to the East Rand Reg­i­ment at the Benoni base.

“These se­cu­rity prob­lems are not only there. We’ve seen them in other places in­clud­ing Cape Town, where weapons were stolen, and we’ve seen ca­bles be­ing stolen from navy sites.

“These al­le­ga­tions are shock­ing and un­ac­cept­able. We are sit­ting with a much big­ger prob­lem be­cause of many as­pects in­clud­ing un­der­fund­ing. A nor­mal de­fence force needs a bud­get of 2% of the GDP of a coun­try; ours is be­low 1%.

“Nor­mally in a de­fence force 40% of your ex­penses go to­wards hu­man re­sources, 30% to op­er­a­tions and 30% to equip­ment.

“We sit in a sit­u­a­tion where hu­man re­sources is about 60% and run­ning to 70% and more than 50% of the staff is over 45, whereas in a nor­mal de­fence force you have 80% of staff about 35 to 38 years old.”

Pic­ture: Masi Losi

The de­fence force’s in­spec­tor-gen­eral has raised se­ri­ous mis­man­age­ment is­sues with the East Rand Reg­i­ment.

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