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Cape Town - Armscor may not ordinarily be associated with any well-known fairytale, but there’s definitely a touch of Cinderella about a secret project to which the state-funded armaments company has devoted five years. And their glass slipper?
None other than the court shoe beloved of generations of sensible matrons and school marms. And not unlike the prince in the original fairytale, Armscor has spent considerable time and effort measuring women’s feet to make sure the shoe fits. The research and the shoe were presented by Ergotech, a division of Armscor, to MPs on the Defence portfolio committee during an oversight visit last week. Armscor’s sartorial venture appears to be aimed at fitting the feet of women serving in the SANDF.
The Armscor annual report also mentions the shoe, saying it is “based on the anthropometry of SANDF females as obtained through 3D laser scanning and multivariate statistical analysis techniques”. Anthropometry refers to the measurement of the human body, but it’s unclear how many women were measured for the shoe, and how many took part in the subsequent fittings.
DA MP David Maynier, who was at the presentation, was not enchanted. He described the shoe as “rather ordinary looking, black or possibly dark blue, and probably designed to be worn by women in the SANDF with their dress uniform”. He had questioned how much the research had cost, but got no satisfactory answer, he added.
“I am going to submit a parliamentary question to probe the justification and the costs involved. I might also challenge the minister (Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) to wear the shoe herself for a week to test it.”
He was also considering asking Communications Minister Dina Pule, known for her excellent taste in footwear since controversy was sparked over her Christian Louboutin shoes, to do the same.
“Dina Pule has worn arguably the best shoes in the world, so she would be an excellent candidate to test the shoes out,” he said.
Armscor spokeswoman Daphney Chuma said she could not answer questions relating to the shoes at this stage.
“The technology is unique to Armscor and therefore cannot be shared at this early stage.”