Call-up mix-up ends up in board of inquiry

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An apparent misinterpretation of a Reserve Force call-up last year led to an SA Army board of enquiry (BOI) being convened.

The unannounced and unwanted arrival of over eight hundred civilians at the Eastern Cape headquarters of Umzimvubu Regiment last July, apparently in response to an SA Army Reserves call-up for Operation Prosper duties, is behind the BOI.

A Directorate: Corporate Communications (DCC) statement has it CArmy Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha issued a media statement calling on Army Reserves to report for duty on 15 July at “their respective units with the necessary equipment”.

“The purpose of the call-up was to build sufficient response capacity for the operation in support of the South African Police Services (SAPS).”

“It came to CArmy’s attention that the 808 people who reported at Umzimvubu Regiment had come for enlistment to be members of the SA Army Reserves rather than members of the Reserves ready to be deployed,” the DCC statement attributed to Brigadier General Andries Mahapa has it.

“As a result, C Army, on 24 December 2021 convened a BOI to investigate and report on circumstances around mobilisation of Reserves at Umzimvubu Regiment.”

Umzimvubu Regiment has the distinction of being the first Army Reserve Force unit to be established in South Africa since the 1994 election that brought the ANC (African National Congress) to power.

The unit is, according to SANDF social media, Mthatha and Port St Johns based and was founded in February 2016. It shares facilities used by 14 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion in Mthatha and at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River at Port St Johns.

Its mandate is provide combat ready specialised infantry to the General Officer Commanding SA Army Infantry Formation in jungle and mountain warfare as well as air assault and brown water, also known as riverine, operations.