Cape Town - Access control booms at Wynberg Military Base have been unmanned for months, allowing anyone to freely enter.
A resident who lives at the base called the Cape Argus to say there had been a number of break-ins at apartment buildings and housing units at the base in recent months.
The woman asked to remain anonymous, saying that she could lose her job as an SANDF employee if she was identified.
On Monday, upon visiting the base, the Cape Argus team had unrestricted access to the complex through two security checkpoints.
The team also walked into 2 Military Hospital, which falls within the base.
An employee at the base told the Cape Argus that he had not seen a security guard on site for about a year.
Since the beginning of the year at the base, he said, there had been several burglaries - one while the residents were at home - and a thief had been caught for stripping aluminium from the walls and doors in the hospital. The most shocking allegation was that a man, who had allegedly just shot his wife, had wandered into 2 Military Hospital’s casualty ward where his wife was being treated, still clutching his firearm.
The employee said: “I’ve inquired and (have) been told that it is a funding issue - that there are not enough resources to deploy permanent guards there.
“Yet it is a crucial service that is missing. All the while, generals have the freedom to use the budget for plasma flat-screen televisions and new leather furniture in their offices.”
Fencing around the base was also in disarray, he said.
No one would comment when the Cape Argus approached administrative and medical staff at the hospital.
Tim Flack, regional organiser for the South African National Defence Union (Sandu), said: “They won’t speak to the media, they are too scared of being reprimanded. But we can confirm an incident where an emotional and drunk man walked into the casualty ward waving a gun around. There was no security and no senior staff, leaving it up to an intern to calm the man down while she waited for police.
“Concerns have fallen on deaf ears. It is disgusting that these issues only get dealt with when the media exposes them,” Flack said.
Security had been beefed up only when General Solly Shoke, chief of the SANDF, was taken to 2 Military for treatment last month, Flack said.
Pikkie Greeff, Sandu’s national secretary, said that the lack of access control at the base was shocking but not unique.
He referred to an admission by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, reported on in the Cape Argus last month, that thousands of metres of copper wire had been stolen from the navy’s Silvermine communications centre over the past 18 months.
“We have had similar reports from 1 Military Hospital (in Pretoria), where patients have complained about strangers walking in and stealing their belongings due to poor access control,” Greeff said.
David Maynier, the DA’s spokesman on defence, said that the problem was symptomatic of a “R13 billion backlog” in infrastructure, maintenance and repair work in the defence force.
The department acknowledged receipt of the Cape Argus’s queries, but had not responded at the time of going to press.