Thieves who raided a Pretoria military base and stole 19 R4 semi-automatic rifles may have spent three months carrying out their operation, claims the SA National Defence Union (Sandu).
The theft was discovered on Tuesday during a spot check of the SANDF's Engineering Formation armoury, located at the Lyttelton Tek Base.
Military police arrested 11 soldiers who were on duty at the time that the theft was discovered. The soldiers are due to appear in a military court in Thaba Tshwane, outside Pretoria, on Friday afternoon.
Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff said information obtained from sources at the base showed that the last time an inspection of the armoury was done was in September.
"That goes against [official] policy. Armouries are meant to be checked every 30 days," he said.
"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."