CACHE: Weapons and equipment from the navy robbery. Picture: Piet Smit
CACHE: Weapons and equipment from the navy robbery. Picture: Piet Smit

Are SA military bases soft targets?

By Siyabonga Kalipa Time of article published Apr 19, 2017

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Cape Town – Security needs to be beefed up at military bases after the latest robbery at 9 South African Infantry Battalion on Good Friday, experts have said.

Police confirmed five armed unidentified suspects had robbed an army base in Khayelitsha last week.

The University of Cape Town’s Guy Lamb said security needed to be strengthened at the base.

“As national key points (with armouries), military bases are supposed to be protected by layers of tight security, from fencing to robust buildings (armouries) with sturdy locks and 24 hour guarding and patrols.”

Lamb said however that the implementation of such security measures was largely dependent on a combination of available resources, troop morale and base management and oversight.

He said it was more difficult to acquire firearms, especially automatic weapons, in the illegal sector these days due to weapons seizures and destruction efforts by the police, and more restrictive firearms licensing legislation.

“The SANDF is one of the few government agencies that possesses automatic weapons, and hence military bases have been targeted.

“Such weapons are typically used in cash-in-transit robberies, but have also been linked to the current gang conflicts in and around Cape Town.”

He said it was unclear if the robberies were linked to a specific gang, but it was highly likely the arms robbery was the work of an organised criminal group.

“Organised criminal groups, including street gangs have been closely associated with thefts/robberies of arms from both military and police armouries in the past.

“The current robbery is most likely linked to a shrinkage in the illegal arms sector (particularly more high-powered firearms) due to arms seizures by the police in recent years, particularly from criminal groups in Cape Town,” said Lamb.

Military analyst Helmoed Heitman reiterated Lamb’s position saying security needed to be beefed up in order to avoid such incidents.

“It needs to be difficult for anyone entering a military base to go out, we can even have two sets of gates that people must go through, and if we go that far we would be safer,” he said. – [email protected]

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