Crime in the SANDF “worrisome”

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Acknowledgement that crime reaches as far as the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) came from General Rudzani Maphwanya, South Africa’s senior soldier, when he addressed the force’s seventh anti-criminality conference.

The SANDF chief is reported as telling conference attendees last week “we are gathered here as an acknowledgement of the reality of criminality in the country”. Elaborating, the four-star said the SANDF “must take the lead in the fight against crimes of all nature”.

The conference, according to Staff Sergeant Itumeleng Makhubela, “painted a worrisome picture of levels of crimes and transgressions committed” by uniformed personnel.

Military police “grapple” with vehicle accidents, vehicle theft, fraud and corruption among others. “Sexual assault offences remain under-reported along with the majority of crimes committed”.

Maphwanya is reported as saying “syndicates are becoming more of a norm” in the SANDF with military personnel “voluntarily” taking part in criminal activities. He further noted the SANDF has to contend with white collar crime as there is “a trend of fraudulent and corrupt activities”.

He maintains the anti-criminality strategy applied in the SANDF is central to ensuring the force is “commanded as a disciplined one”.

On social media, Brigadier-General Sunitha Solomons, Director Military Prosecutions, said it was a new challenge for military police to “monitor and police behaviour and content uploaded to online platforms”. She wants social media used “in consideration and to the benefit of the organisation [SANDF]”.

She warned “some SANDF members have been found to be on social media platforms while in operational areas wearing uniform. These acts may be inappropriate as they undermine the operation’s integrity and the soldiers themselves”.

A further warning is social media users have to recognise the various platforms and “accept the threat”. This was particularly so when social media posts created “conditions for the malicious actor to generate actionable intelligence on an individual”.  Devices such as smartphones can give position through geo-location and enable identification of location, equipment and organisation of deployed forces. “Opposing forces may also be using technologically advanced devices to defeat a password which may be used to exploit an individual,” according to the senior military prosecutor.