Four SANDF general staff officers among 16 suspended

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Sixteen uniformed SA National Defence Force (SANDF) officers are suspended and earning full salaries along with two civilian Department of Defence (DoD) employees.

Twelve of those are “senior officers” with the remaining four “general staff officers”, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais was told by Minister Thandi Modise. The suspensions, as per Marais’ question, have been in force since the start of 2023.

His request for details of names, ranks, units, places of work, duration of suspension as well as reasons and/or charges was not responded to.

Modise’s written reply indicated the information Marais asked for is available in the DoD “but the department is not at liberty to release it, as cases are still subjects of investigation”. If he plans to take his quest for answers further Marais will, the Ministerial response has it, have to utilise the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) as well as the Protection of Personal Information Act.

This route was previously used by him when seeking clarity on aspects on what Marais called “smuggling” of an unregistered drug – Heberon from Cuba – into South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. The drug was, according to reports, for military personnel who could or would be exposed to the virus.

He told defenceWeb he will “in all probability” follow this route to ensure proper Parliamentary oversight.

“Minister Modise’s honeymoon is over,” Marais said taking into account an earlier Ministerial response and the answer he was given on the 18 suspensions (including DoD Public Service Act employees). The earlier response came when he wanted similar information regarding the suspension – seemingly since 2020 – of deputy Surgeon-General, Major General Noel Ndhlovu.

The two-star was reportedly suspended for apparently refusing to sign off on the Heberon acquisition and, again according to reports, is on full pay earning over R3.2 million (including benefits) since October 2020.