Sunday Times


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.”

 ?? Picture: Masi Losi ?? The defence force’s inspector-general has raised serious mismanagem­ent issues with the East Rand Regiment.
Picture: Masi Losi The defence force’s inspector-general has raised serious mismanagem­ent issues with the East Rand Regiment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa