Army chief’s official residence has been empty for 28 months


The head of the army’s official residence in Waterkloof, Pretoria, has been empty for more than two years.

The empty house on the corner of Edward and Rose Streets has been empty since 30 November 2021 when the former army chief, Gen. Solly Shoke, moved out.

Meanwhile, the house is guarded day and night by military personnel and the municipal bill amounts to around R9 000 every month.

Thandi Modise, minister of defense and military veterans, revealed to a parliamentary question from the FF Plus that R8 561.86 is paid monthly for electricity, water and sanitation and a further R407.04 for garbage disposal.

“Just the service fees for the past 28 months, which include water, power and sanitation, amount to R251 128,” says Dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus.

His party went to make the sum.

According to Modise’s parliamentary answer, renovation work must be done on the property and “due to the high costs of maintenance and repair work” involved, this will only be undertaken in the new financial year.

Groenewald now intends to ask the minister in a follow-up question what the scope of the repair work on the house is, how the damage was caused and what it will cost to repair.

“If it is taken into account that the damage is so great that the house is uninhabitable for 28 months, the question must be asked whether Shoke then vandalized the house,” says Groenewald.

Information that the Department of Defense’s internal audit committee presented to the parliamentary portfolio committee for defense earlier this year shows the extent of money wastage in the military.

RNews reported just last month that the department was only able to recover a mere R800 from around R430 million in wasted expenditure in the previous financial year – a recovery rate of 0.002%.

Irregular expenses amounted to R15.98 billion in the year in question. Only R76 000 of this was recovered.

This while more than R3 million has been paid for premises whose leases have long since expired.

Groenewald says the revealing allegations concerning the former speaker of the National Assembly and minister of defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, show how millions of rand flowed between army contractors and persons who were believed to have been bribed.

Still, there is no money for proper air support for South Africa’s soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the SANW’s bases nationwide have fallen into such disrepair that it is estimated that it will cost R8 billion to restore, adds Groenewald.

“The military’s ongoing excuse for its decline is that it receives too little money from its budget. Yet last year R220 million was spent on an army celebration in Richards Bay, while the air force only had two serviceable first-line fighter planes and one frigate at its disposal.

“During the celebrations, the logistics wing did not even have money for diesel to transport the army’s band. According to media reports, band members had to pay out of their own pockets to travel from Cape Town to Richards Bay.

“In addition, the SANW suffers from a top structure of about 400 generals who earn enormous salaries. That is one general for every 184 other persons in the army. This top management must be cut urgently.”

Groenewald also draws attention to the fact that more than R30 million was wasted during the Covid-19 pandemic on a vaccine that could not be used at the time.

“However, this was still little compared to irregularities regarding the Covid-19 procurement processes of quarantine facilities and protective equipment where hundreds of millions of rand were squandered and stolen.

“All things considered, the biggest loss is that of an available ready, professional and disciplined army.”

Groenewald says the army has fallen into disrepair like its chief’s official residence in Waterkloof.