South Africa’s Defence Force has been stolen dry

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has hundreds of outstanding corruption and fraud cases among its members, totalling well above R1 billion in value.

This was revealed during a recent presentation by the SANDF to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence.

During the session, the SANDF presented MPs with a Corruption and Fraud Register, which collates the cases under investigation by the SANDF’s Inspectorate Division, Military Police Division, and the Defence Legal Services Division.

This showed a massive backlog of cases, with 407 still either under investigation or in court.

In the last quarter, only 14 cases were concluded, while a further 33 cases were added.

Of those concluded cases, most were for minor offences such as fraudulent authorisation of trips and receipts, and fraudulent sick leave.

The most severe convictions were a fine of R6,000 and suspended six months imprisonment for sick note fraud, and two dismissals related to sick leave fraud.

More worryingly, however, was the list of 122 high-profile cases which involved fraud or corruption of R100,000 or greater.

The most recent cases of suspected fraud and corruption being investigated that occurred between 2019 and 2020 were:

  • R400 million contract for Covid-19 related equipment.
  • R239 million for supply of life capability project.
  • R17.9 million for a server rack procured by the Command and Management Information System (CMIS).
  • R11.4 million paid for 658 computers before delivery.

One other notable case currently under investigation by the SIU involves a R120-million deal from the 2017/2018 financial year for the purchase of 20,000 unspecified software licences, of which only 15,000 were delivered.

There were dozens of other fraud and corruption cases worth millions of rand. Combined with the cases listed above these easily exceed R1 billion in value.

Many of the other cases involved hundreds of thousands or millions of rand paid in salaries, for work that was not completed, or for tenders that did not follow the right procurement processes.

The high-profile cases stretched over the last two decades, with one case shown going back to 1998.

To make matters worse, these cases do not include instances of irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure at the SANDF, which are handled administratively by the Chief Finance Division.

ANC MP Alexandra Beukes raised concern over the fact that, from the cases presented, more than 30 were still being investigated by the Military Police, some of which occurred 13 years ago.

The chairperson of the committee, Cyril Xaba, asked that SANDF add the suspended members for each case, as this was not forthcoming in the presentation.

New defence minister Thandi Modise apologised for the presentation’s quality and that MPs were not briefed properly beforehand on the contents to allow for proper questioning.

Thandi Modise, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans

DA MP Kobus Marais told MyBroadband the state of the cases was totally unacceptable and a sign of poor management and discipline up to the highest rank and position.

“We as South Africans must have faith and trust in the SANDF to act in our best interest. Constitution S200(1) clearly obliges the SANDF and its leadership to be a ‘disciplined military force,'” said Marais.

“Nothing less will be acceptable, and if management allows ill-discipline, then they must be held accountable.”

“It is important that consequence management must be a part of the responsibilities of everyone in a senior and/or overseeing role and position,” he added.

Now read: Denel execs suspended for corruption receive full salaries — but employees not paid

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South Africa’s Defence Force has been stolen dry