President Cyril Ramaphosa saddened by death of six soldiers after a fire at Lohatla

The fire left six soldiers dead and three others dead at the military base. Picture: Supplied

The fire left six soldiers dead and three others dead at the military base. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 8, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was saddened by the death of six soldiers at the Lohatla military base in the Northern Cape after a fire swept through the base.

Three other soldiers were taken to hospital where they are recovering.

This is the third incident in the last few weeks where members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have lost their lives.

Three weeks ago three submariners died in Cape Town after a wave struck them during an exercise.

A few days later four members of the SANDF died in a car accident in the Northern Cape. Eleven others were taken to hospital.

During the weekend a fire swept through the military base in Lohatla leaving six soldiers dead.

Ramaphosa said on Sunday he was saddened by what happened.

“The South African National Defence Force announced on Saturday that a wildfire that had originated in Khathu in the Gamagara local municipality had reached the military base where six soldiers died in the blaze while three were injured and the army lost equipment including vehicles,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya.

“President Ramaphosa offers his deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased SANDF members.”

The National Assembly’s portfolio committee on defence said it was saddened by the latest incident involving members of the army.

Chairperson of the committee Cyril Xaba said this happened at the time the SANDF was battling budget cuts.

“The fire left six soldiers dead, three injured and destroyed camping equipment and army vehicles, worst of all this happens at a time when the SANDF is battling with budget cuts that have compromised the serviceability of strategic defence equipments,” said Xaba.

He said they are with the families of the soldiers who died in the past few weeks.

“The committee also extends condolences to the entire SANDF which has been struck by tragic deaths of its members in a short space of time,” he said.

He said he hoped the relevant structures of government will be able to contain the fire.

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