ATC071023: Report on Preliminary Report to Lohatla Combat Training Centre
PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE OVERSIGHT VISIT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE TO LOHATLA COMBAT TRAINING CENTRE, NORTHERN CAPE
The Portfolio and Joint Standing Committees on Defence conducted a joint oversight visit to the Lohatla Combat Training Centre (LCTC) on Wednesday, 23 October 2007. Both committees have constitutionally mandated parliamentary oversight responsibilities of the Department of Defence and are obligated to ensure that the morale and well-being of the South African National Defence Force [SANDF] remain at a high level.
The visit was aimed at determining the circumstances around the shooting accident during training on 12 October 2007 that resulted in the death of 9 soldiers and 14 wounded at LCTC. This report is based on the interactions between the Parliamentary Delegation and members of the SANDF, and the bereaved families.
The delegation comprised:
Portfolio Committee on Defence
Mr F Bhengu (Chairperson: Portfolio Committee on Defene)
Mr P Daniels (ANC)
Mr M Booi (ANC)
Mr J Schippers (ANC)
Mr S B Ntuli (ANC)
Dr P Pheko (PAC)
Joint Standing Committee on Defence
Dr M Schoemann (Chairperson: Joint Standing Committee on Defence)
Mr O E Monareng (ANC)
Mr J Schippers (ANC)
Rev N W Ngcobo (ANC)
Mr A L Moseki (NCOP -ANC)
Mr M Shah (DA)
2.1 Meeting with relatives of the deceased:
The Parliamentary Delegation, hosted by the SANDF at Waterkloof Airforce Base in Thaba Tshwane, met with relatives of the deceased and extended condolences on behalf of Parliament to the families. The two groups then proceeded to the Memorial Service in Kimberley.
Address by Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee at the memorial service in Kimberley:
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Mr F Bhengu, in his address on behalf of Parliament to mourners, reiterated both the Committees’ condolences to the families of the deceased and stressed Parliament’s oversight responsibility to ensure that a thorough investigation into the events of that day is conducted.
Address by the Minister of Defence, Minister M P Lekota:
The Minister of Defence, Mr M P Lekota, extended condolences on behalf of the Government and country to relatives and paid tribute to the deceased. He gave the assurance that a full investigation will be conducted to establish the causes of the accident. The Department will lend every possible assistance to the families of the deceased.
2.4 Meeting with members of the South African National Defence Force:
The Delegation met with approximately 100 soldiers in the church hall after the Memorial Service, and expressed its pride and appreciation for the selfless dedication displayed by troops, despite the dangers associated with military service. Soldiers were encouraged to maintain the high levels of professionalism and dedication.
3. Visit to Lohatla Combat Training Centre (LCTC):
Upon arrival at LCTC, the Parliamentary Delegation was escorted to the scene of the accident and was briefed on the events of that day. As there is an official investigation underway, a general overview of the events of that day was provided. A detailed briefing will be held with the Department subsequent to the tabling of the report on the outcomes of the investigation.
The Portfolio Committee on Defence, mindful of the investigations by the official Board of Enquiry and the South African Police Service (SAPS), await the findings of the Department. The Committee will table its final report subsequent to the tabling and the deliberations on the outcomes of the Department’s official enquiry.
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