CARRY ON COLONEL
Colonel also turned regimental HQ into a parking lot for cricket fans — and kept cash
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.”
The defence force’s inspector-general has raised serious mismanagement issues with the East Rand Regiment.