To say the Department of Defence’s Legal Services Division is not having a particularly stellar time is probably an understatement.
Over the past two financial cycles its performance has been less than adequate when viewed dispassionately. The latest available annual report indicates its success rate in terms of a target set by it was 45%. This is not necessarily a true figure as the report goes on to indicate the division received 96 cases and attended to 83 of them. Only 23 litigation cases were settled in favour of the DoD represented by its Legal Services Division.
Earlier this week this same Legal Services Division had to eat humble pie in the infamous Guptagate affair. Following an ultimatum sent to it at the beginning of the year by the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) a letter withdrawing charges against the remaining two SA Air Force (SAAF) officers initially accused of wrongdoing finally put aside any chance of military prosecution.
Three separate investigations by military legal services as well as the original internal SANDF investigation all turned up nothing that could be used as valid evidence to bring so-called “culprits” to court.
That the officers have been exonerated is fitting tribute to them knowing they did no wrong and were only following orders when told to allow the landing of a privately owned jet aircraft at AFB Waterkloof. They executed orders given by a higher authority.
Sadly, it would seem the collective net that is more and more being referred to as Zuma Inc, the patronage system surrounding the President, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces, includes the defence force. This doesn’t and will not inspire confidence in those uniformed men and women who do put service to the nation above all else.