THE South African Police Service (SAPS) is considering phasing out its battle-worn fleet of Nyala armoured vehicles, which have taken a pounding during protests over the decades, Parliament’s committee on police heard on Tuesday.
Stefan Schutte told the committee that the current fleet of about 200 of the fortified vehicles were also heavy on fuel. They were no longer manufactured, so to replace them would entail investing in a production line, which would be costly.
SAPS had ordered 4,796 new vehicles for the 2015-16, year and 4,508 had been delivered, with invoices for R1bn issued already.
This could provide relief to communities that desperately needed police vehicles to respond to crimes and emergencies.
But this expenditure excluded money on Nyalas, because they fell under the maintenance budget.
The Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research and Armscor are looking into a new type of vehicle to replace the Nyala. A prototype has been developed and it will have to go into an open bid.
The SAPS had to decide whether to opt for that vehicle or whether it would accept it as a donation, subject to rules on donations.
“We are looking at something easier on maintenance and fuel,” said Gen Schutte. “These Nyalas are extremely fuel expensive and fuel intensive.”
The committee heard that the Nyalas had to be started and given a run at least once a month, otherwise they developed problems.
“You can’t just park the diesel Nyala without starting it every week and driving it around the block, for a month,” he said. But, he added: “It is a vehicle that can take punishment, so to speak.”
ANC MP Angelina Molebatsi said: “Time is against us. The number of violent protests are increasing at an alarming rate. (Public order police) must have…up and running Nyalas to be effective at quelling everything.”