SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief General Solly Shoke’s oft-stated commitment to rooting out corruption and fraud in the military was given a shot in the arm with the conviction – and cashiering – of a colonel.
Fifty-eight-year-old Colonel Alicia Andiswa Mdekazi was part of the national defence force’s human resources division and carried the title “Senior Staff Officer: Human Resources Acquisition”.
She was charged with contravening a section of the act governing prevention and combatting of corrupt activities – a general corruption offence – and two charges of common law fraud.
Mdekazi was initially sentenced to dismissal from the national defence force with a review of the sentence by the Court of Military Appears changing it to four years in prison and cashiering. The SANDF said in a statement “processes of separation (from the national defence force) have been effected and the member will start serving sentence at the Kgosi Mampuru II correctional facility in Pretoria”.
Her sentencing follows intensive investigation and a subsequent trial into allegations of conducting herself in a manner consistent with promoting corruption and fraud against the SANDF according to the statement.
“It was found on two charges she used her rank and position to influence subordinates and colleagues to effect various corrupt transactions that favoured a rejected application of a Military Skills Development System (MSDS) applicant after receiving monetary compensation from the applicant’s mother, a senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the national defence force, to the value of two thousand Rand. The mother was charged for her part in the matter.
“On the third charge Mdekazi was found guilty of misrepresentation to the SANDF by gaining entry into the HR Acquisition system and fraudulently influencing the appointment approval of another MSDS applicant after the application was rejected,” the statement said.
The MSDS is annually targeted by unscrupulous scammers who maintain they can guarantee placement in the national defence force when applicants pay a fee. This has been denied, on numerous occasions by the SANDF which does not charge people any recruitment fee. Applicants have to meet stated criteria and then wait for final selection as a limited number of volunteers are accepted for voluntary service once a year in all four SANDF arms of service. On completion of a two year voluntary service period, some are offered placement in the full-time force with the rest expected to utilise their military skills in the Reserve Force.
The Mdekazi sentencing was welcomed by the Military Command Council which pointed out “any ill-behaviour commensurate with criminality will subject the perpetrators to the full might of the law without any exceptions, regardless of rank, position or level in the SANDF”.