Indications are a long and tedious process awaits those involved in “cleansing” the national military veterans’ database with three verification sessions held to date.
The sessions, under the aegis of the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) with retired general Derrick Mgwebi in charge as acting director general, will evaluate 5 921 personnel files from three former liberation forces. They are Apla (Azanian People’s Liberation Army), Azanla (Azanian National Liberation Army) and MK (uMkhonto we Sizwe).
Presenting the latest available information on what is officially termed the “cleansing of the national military veterans database” to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) last week, Mgwebi said a database cleansing, verification and enhancement task team (DCVETT) was appointed to “reinforce” the cleansing process. This, when complete, will ensure the names and details captured are in fact military veterans and entitled to benefits including healthcare, assistance with education and business opportunities as well as funeral benefits.
Mgwebi’s presentation showed a total of 19 725 non-statutory force (NSF) soldiers from three “liberation forces” registered on the national database. Of these, 12 569 are reportedly still alive with 7 156, according to the DMV, deceased.
When it comes to dependents, Thabang Makwetla’s responsibility for military veterans as the deputy minister in Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s Department of Defence and Military Veterans is to see to the overall welfare of 7 900 registered dependents. The DMV knows of over 23 000 dependents from Apla, Azanla and MK.
Mgwebi’s presentation dealt only with former “liberation forces” and gave no indication of the number of former SA Defence Force (SADF) veterans.
The data cleansing process entails ensuring applications must have, among others, service affidavit from the relevant veterans’ organisation and three similar legally attested documents from former commanders. In turn as part of its commitment to ensuring only those whose bona fides entitle them to military veteran’ benefits, the DMV will assist in obtaining outstanding documentation.
To date, the DMV has checked 1 634 personnel files with 913 found not to contain service certificates. These can be in four forms – 2012 DMV medal recipients, Robben Island prisoners, re-interned MK combatants and members who died in action or in exile. Where duplicate files were encountered these were “synchronised”.