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Stolen army rifles still missing

The 19 semi-automatic R4 rifles stolen from an army armoury in Tshwane have not been recovered.

Defence ministry spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said that none of the weapons — which were discovered missing on Tuesday during a spot check — had been found.

The rifles are believed to have been stolen over a three-month period from army Engineering Formation armoury located at the Lyttelton Tek Base.

Twelve soldiers on duty at the base on the day the theft was discovered were arrested and appeared in a military court in Thaba Tshwane on Friday.

The troops were remanded in custody and will appear again in court on January 3.

It was initially reported that the guns were found in Hammanskraal‚ north of Pretoria‚ but Dlamini said they had not.

He said that though some equipment linked to the weapons had been left behind by the thieves‚ those behind the theft had made off with all the rifle components.

Asked to comment on reports from the SA National Defence Union that inspections of the armoury were last done in September‚ he said investigations were still under way.

Armoury inspections are meant to be conducted every month by base weapons and logistics officers as well as the commanding officer.

SANDU national secretary Pikkie Greeff said information that they had obtained from sources at the base showed that the last time an inspection of the armoury was done was in September.

“That goes against [armoury] policy. Armouries are meant to be checked every 30 days. There are several people who do the check which includes the weapons officers‚ logistical officers and the commanding officer of the base.

“It is clear that these checks were not done. What the military‚ which is clearly embarrassed by this theft‚ has done is to adopt a shotgun approach and arrest everyone who was on duty the day the theft was discovered.

“What they should have done is a proper investigation‚ which should look into why the armoury was last checked in September.”

He said an important question which the investigation needed to answer was who was going to receive and use the weapons.

“Find that out and you can start to solve who was really responsible for this theft.”

Source: TMG Digital.

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