The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has opened a case of fraud against the suppliers of food that had allegedly expired.
In a statement on Tuesday, SANDF said the food ration packs were meant for soldiers deployed to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown.
A video doing the rounds on WhatsApp shows a soldier demonstrating how stickers with new expiry dates had been placed over the original dates.
The Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke, said if it was indeed true that the suppliers had tampered with expiry dates, it would amount to “sabotage of the SANDF’s mandate to protect South Africa.”
SANDF added, “The case was opened with the Military Police who has appointed a dedicated team to investigate the case, and those found to be on the wrong side of the law must face the full might of the law.”
SANDF spokesperson Col Louis Kirstein said the names of the suppliers involved will not be revealed until investigations are complete.
The video showed three packs of barbecue rice; beef, samp and beans; and savoury rice that had stickers placed over them.
‘Someone please intervene’
One sticker had a best-before date of 31 October, 2020, but the pack itself had a best-before date of 7 December, 2019.
The unnamed soldier is heard asking, “Is this what we mean to this government of ours? Someone please intervene and try to help us.”
2,820 soldiers have been deployed since the lockdown began in late March in what President Cyril Ramaphosa described as a “life-giving mission.”
In a letter to Parliament, Ramaphosa said the deployment was estimated to cost R641,200,290 and would last until 26 June, 2020.
The SANDF has won praise for assisting communities with regard to issuance of food parcels, but has also faced criticism for instances of heavy-handedness.
The government announced over the weekend that it will adopt a “risk-adjusted approach” towards lifting the lockdown at the end of April.