Home News Questions still linger months after Lohatla fire that killed six soldiers

Questions still linger months after Lohatla fire that killed six soldiers

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Six months after the fire that ravaged the Lohatla combat training centre in the Northern Cape, members of Parliament still want to know what caused the blaze.

Members of Parliament’s defence committee still raise questions about the fire at the Lohatla military training centre. Picture: Reuters

SIX MONTHS after the fire that ravaged the Lohatla combat training centre in the Northern Cape, members of Parliament still want to know what caused the blaze.

Six soldiers died when the fired swept through the training centre and three others were taken to hospital.

Political parties also questioned the capacity of the army and state of readiness to deal with an inferno.

The portfolio committee on defence was tabling its report in Parliament after it visited Lohatla after the fire in October last year.

The EFF said the report of the inquiry has not been presented to the portfolio committee on defence to establish the cause of the fire.

The chairperson of the committee, Cyril Xaba, said the fire highlighted the urgent need for the committee to look at the circumstances that led to the fire.

“We were assured that the SANDF took all steps to ensure that those who were injured received emergency care. This report I present encapsulates the committee findings, observations and recommendations arising from this critical oversight function,” said Xaba.

Tseko Mafanya of the EFF said the fire has raised a number of issues that the army must attend to.

He said there was a lack of urgent response from firefighters to prevent the fire. He said this showed there was no preparedness for the army to respond quickly in these situations.

“The raging fire destroyed military vehicles, tents and six members of the SANDF perished

“The Lohatla veld fire started from the nearby mine and the inquiry has not been presented to the committee to ascertain the cause of the fire. There have not been enough firefighters to quell the inferno. SANDF firefighters were not anticipating the fire nor ready for such emergencies, which begs the question, to what level is our army ready to face any war situation coming in different forms,” asked Mafanya.

Petros Sithole of the IFP said the Lohatla military training centre should have been fully equipped to quell the fire.

The army must not find itself in a situation where it cannot manage an emergency situation, he said.

Sithole said the SANDF must consider the use of drones, satellites and other technologies to monitor situations of this nature.

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