Three South African National Defence Force (SANDF) officers and 19 guards are being questioned in connection with the theft of 19 automatic R4 rifles from the Lyttelton Tek Base in Pretoria earlier this week.
According to National Defence Union secretary Pikkie Greef, the weapons were recovered in Hammanskraal on Wednesday morning.
“Three officers who had direct access to the keys have been arrested,” Greef told News24 on Friday.
“On Wednesday, about 19 guards were being questioned.”
Greef said an operation of this nature could only have been an inside job.
“This is of grave concern for the SANDF. You can’t just walk into a base like this and get access to weapons. There are strict access control measures in place. Only authorised personnel have access to such weapons.
“The question that needs to be answered is why these weapons were stolen. Who was the intended end-user of these weapons?”
Greef said the motive could have been to sell them, but said that these particular weapons didn’t have much value on the black market.
He tweeted that an obligatory SANDF board of inquiry would be held.
On Tuesday, SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini confirmed the robbery, News24 reported.
The ANC and DA have condemned the incident.
In a statement on Tuesday, ANC whip Thabo Mmutle said: “It is horrific to imagine the safety of the public when there are dangerous warfare weapons on the streets, as this poses a serious safety risk to citizens and leaves much to be desired about the security of the republic.”
DA defence spokesperson Kobus Marais said in a statement: “It is outrageous to even consider that access could be gained into a supposedly highly protected military facility and further grind open a volt where ammunition is kept.
“Having such arms on the streets poses a threat to the safety of citizens and the security of the republic.”
– News24 Wire