Tender for defence aviation investigated
The SA Civil Aviation Authority is to probe alleged improprieties of a logistics company involved in tendering for multimillion-rand defence aviation contracts.
The probe follows a series of damning reports by senior defence force officers about the awarding of tenders to Johannesburg-based Y&P Logistics.
The company earlier dismissed the allegations and referred all inquiries to the SANDF.
The Times yesterday reported how the documents flagged concerns about the company's operating standards, including the alleged use of multiple serial numbers for aircraft.
According to the civil aviation authority, only one serial number can be assigned to an aircraft.
The reports request the removal of Y&P from the defence force's database of suppliers, on which it is one of five preferred aviation service providers for heavy-lift transport aircraft.
"Since the inclusion of [Y&P], the Department of Defence was, and still is, faced with a magnitude of challenges concerning noncompliance on the contract for the past two years," the reports state. "Compliance to this criterion is crucial for aviation safety [and soldiers' safety]". The reports were sparked by incidents involving the chartering of aircraft from Y&P.
These included the landing of a troop-carrying aircraft at Bloemfontein Airport despite it being prohibited from doing so; a diplomatic incident at Rwanda's Kigali Airport in which armoured vehicles for South African troops battling M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo were impounded; and the failure to deliver troops, ammunition and equipment to South African troops in the Central African Republic battle of Bangui.
Aviation authority spokesman Phindiwe Gwebu said Y&P would be investigated. Bloemfontein Airport fire and rescue head Colin Oberholzer said: "While we did eventually provide a service, the way this matter unfolded was unprofessional . the dangers posed were immense . it is a violation of civil aviation authority regulations . and demands an investigation."
SA Defence Union secretary-general Pikkie Greeff said: "If correct, the union calls on the SANDF to clarify this and on parliament immediately to set in place special measures to acquire the necessary capabilities to ensure the movement of equipment and personnel is solely reliant on the command and control of the defence force."