The “compassion and goodwill” shown by South Africans after a fire in the Northern Cape spread to the Lohatla army base and claimed the lives of six people, is something for which the South African National Defense Force (SANW) is deeply grateful .
However, the SANW says he never asked for material support.
“Despite the dire financial situation in which the SANDF finds itself, we want to reassure South Africans that we are working hard to ensure that we carry out our duties in relation to logistical support to our troops,” says Siphiwe Dlamini, spokesperson for the army .
The relief organization Gift of the Givers donated necessities such as food and drinks to the army base after around 1,300 army members “lost everything in the fire”.
The organization argued that the SANW made an “urgent request for clothes, including underwear, hygiene packs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, cloths, towels, sanitary napkins, energy drinks and blankets”.
Dlamini says the army wants to correct this allegation.
“We have not approached anyone, whether individuals or corporate institutions, for material support.”
Dlamini says that the army not only helps its own members, but also the communities around the Lohatla army base.
“The SANW will not hesitate to empty its stockpiles to bring relief to the surrounding communities,” he says.
“Even in the midst of this tragic loss of life, we remain constitutionally obligated to ensure the safety of South Africans.”
Six members of the army died this past weekend after a fire raged through the Lohatla army base. Three soldiers suffered second-degree burns and were taken to nearby hospitals, while several others sustained minor injuries in the fire at the army’s combat training center.
The latest incident follows an accident on 20 September near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape where four members of 8 SA Infantry Battalion (8 SAI) died.
This tragedy also occurred on the same day that three members of the navy died near Kommetjie in the Western Cape when a wave knocked them off a submarine.
The DA has meanwhile called on Thandi Modise, Minister of Defence, to launch an independent investigation into the latest deaths.
Kobus Marais, the DA’s spokesperson on defence, says the investigation will “provide closure after the incident”, as well as “ensuring that the necessary preventive measures were put in place”.
“The DA thanks the army members who did an exceptional job to ensure that no further loss of life or damage to the facility and equipment is caused,” he says.
“We are also grateful to the agricultural community who used their own tools to help extinguish the fire.”