SANDF spends R20m on luxury sedans and SUVs while base decays

Inside a BMW 7 series sedan. Among the 22 vehicles purchased by the defence force were two BMW 750i sedans worth more than R1.5m each, three Audi Q7s worth nearly R1m apiece and three BMW X5s worth more than R900,000 each.
Inside a BMW 7 series sedan. Among the 22 vehicles purchased by the defence force were two BMW 750i sedans worth more than R1.5m each, three Audi Q7s worth nearly R1m apiece and three BMW X5s worth more than R900,000 each.
Image: bmw.co.za

The defence force (SANDF) spent more than R20m on “luxury vehicles” for its senior brass over two financial years.

Among the 22 vehicles purchased were two BMW 750i sedans worth more than R1.5m each, three Audi Q7s worth nearly R1m apiece and three BMW X5s worth more than R900,000 each.

This was revealed by defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in response to written questions in parliament by FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald.

A BMW 7 series.
A BMW 7 series.
Image: bmw.co.za

The news comes in the same week that cost-cutting sacrifices were announced for government bigwigs in the new ministerial handbook. The handbook limits members of the executive to spending a maximum of R700,000, inclusive of VAT, maintenance plans and security extras, on their official vehicles.

Groenewald asked how many “luxury vehicles exceeding R600,000 were purchased” by the military for “senior management” during the past five financial years.

Twenty luxury vehicles were procured in the 2017-18 financial year and two vehicles were procured in the 2018-19 financial year.

The BMW 750i sedans were purchased for the “logistics division”, along with the Audi Q7s.

A new Audi Q7.
A new Audi Q7.
Image: audi.co.za

A BMW 540i was bought for defence intelligence. Two of the X5s went to the army and three other luxury BMW vehicles to the SA Military Health Services.

Seven Mercedes-Benz V2500 luxury shuttles, ranging in price from about R800,000 to more than R1m, were also procured.

The news also coincided with a response by Mapisa-Nqakula to questions in parliament by DA MP Cilliers Brink about the “poor state of maintenance of the properties and infrastructure in the Thaba Tshwane military base in Centurion”.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she was “well informed of the poor condition” of the facility, built on dolomite land, “and with virtually no upgrade or renovations during the last two decades due to predominantly a lack of funds and a huge backlog of maintenance and repair”.

National FF Plus spokesperson Wouter Wessels said the spending on luxury vehicles was unacceptable given the financial constraints faced by the SANDF.

“The minister admits that her department does not have sufficient funds to do the necessary maintenance of the Thaba Tshwane military base, yet her department spends its limited funds on luxury vehicles and overspends on Operation Prosper's budget,” he said. 

Wessels said the car purchases spoke to “poor governance and wrong priorities”. 

“The ANC government has, for too long, allowed these wrong priorities, over-expenditure, collapse of infrastructure and unnecessary luxuries,” he added. 

Mapisa-Nqakula said that, regarding the base, the department of public works and infrastructure was the custodian of state land and facilities, and therefore responsible for the maintenance and repair thereof.

She said repairs and renovation of sewers, storm water infrastructure and roads, as well as dealing with sinkholes were "in process to take place". "A facility strategic plan has been compiled with the Thaba Tshwane military area as one of the first priorities to be addressed,” she added.  

SANDF spokesperson Brig Mafi Mgobozi was contacted for comment and this story will be updated when it is received. 


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