The Military Ombud office in Centurion is operational and taking complaints, including those about alleged excessive use of force by soldiers during the national state of disaster lockdown.
This is confirmed by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of defence and military veterans Kobus Marais and retired general Vusi Masondo’s office.
Marais indicated earlier this week he would be taking the issue of soldiers going beyond reasonable measures to ensure lockdown regulations are adhered to, to the Military Ombud.
He today confirmed acknowledgement of his complaint by the Ombud. “It was acknowledged by Masondo during an interview on Kaya FM. He confirmed the complaint would be investigated and it has been submitted to General Solly Shoke, Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). I’m happy there is a proactive response”.
In a statement the Ombud head of communication Nthombikayise Mdluli Jacha, said Masondo’s office “remains accessible to assist those who feel aggrieved by the official conduct of SANDF members in the execution of their duties”.
Marais said the response by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was “positive”.
“My information is the army has held information sessions where soldiers have been informed of the legal position, their real mandate and instructions and how to treat civilians even in a time like this state of disaster and lockdown. There has been a definite drop in the number of complaints to me since this initiative by the SANDF.
“Section 200 of the Constitution is clear we need our soldiers to be disciplined despite frustration and provocation,” he said.
Marais also pointed out soldiers work to a different doctrine than police and it “must always be remembered they are deployed in support of the police”.
“I’m personally grateful to the national defence force and the soldiers and military health personnel deployed during the lockdown. Thank you! The nation owes you for what you are doing to save us from this invisible enemy.”
Following Marais’ disclosure of acts of excessive force allegedly committed by soldiers, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it was “disturbed” by footage on social media of police and soldiers using force against people not complying with lockdown regulations.
“The Commission reminds members of law enforcement, both SAPS and SANDF, that the fundamental human rights of everyone in South Africa, including freedom, security of the person and the right to life remain intact, even under lockdown conditions which limit other rights. The Commission urges the security forces to exercise greater tolerance and apply minimum force in the execution of their duties as urged by the President (Cyril Ramaphosa), the Defence Minister and other leaders,” an SAHRC statement said.