Holomisa wants action on Umzimvubu Regiment Operation Prosper call-up debacle


A sorry tale of men and women wanting to wear the SANDF uniform again and answer the call to serve has not been resolved by a board of inquiry (BOI) with eight hundred plus “enlistees” still in the dark as to whether closure – good or bad – will ever materialise.

Making matters worse for those who answered the call for people with military experience to report for enlistment at Umzimvubu Regiment in Eastern Cape mid-last year is five deaths among volunteers, two from coronavirus and three of “other causes” on being sent back home.

Add to this the 815 enlistees, after going through all the necessary processes as apparently set out in an order to the regiment, were sent home three months after reporting for duty.

During their three months in camp, they were literally at the mercy of the regiment leader group who tried in every manner possible to make the situation easier with the help of 14 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion and the Army Support Base (ASB) in Port Elizabeth.

Officers and non-commissioned officers travelled extensively to source mattresses, blankets, boots and uniforms and even rifles.

One officer, preferring anonymity for fear of victimisation, told defenceWeb the way “enlistees” were treated as a result of logistics shortcomings was “an absolute disgrace” as their human dignity was infringed on.

That no preparation was done or logistic pre-stocking in the event of KwaZulu-Natal or Gauteng-type insurrection or other violence ahead of them arriving was obvious.

With just about nothing provided in terms of clothing, accommodation and food, it was evident whoever was in charge of pre-planning for similar scenarios did not perform and was caught off-side.

The officer who spoke to defenceWeb indicated the direct order to the regiment was to receive the “enlistees”, all with the required past military training, complete administration and prepare them for deployment.

This was impossible because the logistic situation was such “it could hardly serve a platoon”.

As of May this year, only 57 of those who voluntarily reported for duty were paid a month’s salary with further payment still on hold.

The rest have not received any payment and apparently will not because their details were not updated and/or uploaded on the Reserve Force personnel system with the BOI outcomes expected to contribute one way or another.

The BOI convened late last December and seemingly went through the motions and a report was compiled, defenceWeb was informed.

To date, as far as can be ascertained, there have been no outcomes or implementation of recommendations.

At least four Umzimvubu Regiment officers and warrant officers unofficially took the issue further in attempts to find out what went wrong and if those who volunteered will at least be paid for their effort.

This, to date, has drawn reaction from UDM (United Democratic Movement) parliamentarian and retired general Bantu Holomisa in the form of a letter to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise and SANDF Chief, General Rudzani Maphwanya.

Originally an Eastern Cape resident with strong roots in the province, Holomisa terms the Umzimvubu Regiment call-up “untenable” and “embarrassing” noting Modise is aware of the matter thanks to a Parliamentary question. He wants action – speedily – and an investigation, not another BOI, into “how the matter was handled in the national defence force”.

A regiment soldier said if called up again, those involved in the Operation Prosper debacle will respond as they are proud of past involvement in the SANDF and remain so.