The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has opened a fraud case against a company called SERAC with the military police in Pretoria. The company, which makes ready-to-eat meals, allegedly supplied the SANDF with expired ration packs. SANDF members have been deployed across the country to assist the police to manage the coronavirus lockdown regulations.
Soldiers on the ground during the COVID-19 lockdown operation, explaining how they were supplied with expired ration packs. This has led to many of them being forced to buy their own food although their food allowances have been discontinued.
On the 24 Apr 20 , ASB Mpumalanga packed almost 3000 ration packs for the deployed SANDF members in Mpumalanga. This comes after the ration pack supplier had concealed the expired dates of the ration packs they delivered and they had to be withdrawn.
— SA National Defence Force (@SANDFCorpEvents) April 25, 2020
The South African National Defence Union (SANDU) says this should be addressed urgently. The union’s national secretary Advocate Pikkie Greeff says they are yet to receive alternative plans from the SANDF.
The video below shows concerns over deployment of SANDF during lockdown:
“Proper support of the people that keep South Africans safe is of paramount importance. So, if there’s any controversy or questions around dates on ration packs, they need to be addressed properly and through right channels by the defence force itself who obtained these ration packs for the members. Our greatest concern is what the alternative plan might be to feed our soldiers. We requested the SANDF to inform us of the alternative we could not get a response,” says Greeff.
The acting director for Defence Corporate Communications Louis Kirstein has confirmed that the SANDF has opened a fraud case against the supplying company.
“I can confirm that the National Defence Force has laid a charge of fraud against the suppliers of ration packs with the military personnel deployed in COVID-19 lockdown operation. We have done this after it was discovered that the supplied ration packs were expired. The case was opened with the medical police in Pretoria and they have appointed the dedicated team to investigate the case. Those found to be on the wrong side of the law must face the full might of the law. We are in the process of making sure all our soldiers receive food,” says Kirstein.
The company at the centre of this storm has refuted allegations that some of the food packs were expired.
SERAC CEO Steven Weir explains the deliverance of these ration packs. “What actually happened is that the ration packs is one pack of food for one soldier for one day. Inside that pack there are 85 items. Inside the pack there were also three items, which had a best before date. There is no expiry date anywhere on any pack. They were designed to last a long time. The confusion came with those three items out of the 85. So, we are discussing with SANDF to find way of resolving the confusion,” explains Weir.
SERAC has recalled all the affected ration packs.
More details on SANDF deployment in the video below: