The issue of the illegal use of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) uniforms was this week again in the public focus after a woman was attacked in KwaZulu-Natal by people allegedly impersonating soldiers.
A woman in her seventies was apparently attacked, raped and subsequently murdered in Sweetwater, KwaZulu-Natal, during the national state of disaster lockdown, by unknown attackers allegedly impersonating soldiers who claimed they were going around sanitising homes. This was subsequently expanded to include police. There has been no official comment on the Sweetwater attack from either the SANDF or the SA Police Service.
“I am concerned about criminals who take advantage of the national lockdown to rob and murder innocent citizens. We want women and children to be safe during this moment,” Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a statement earlier this week.
The SANDF takes serious action against civilians who wear military uniforms, especially the standard issue camouflage battledress that is the day-to-day attire of most military personnel and not confined to deployed soldiers.
Last November, the SANDF again pointed out in a statement it was an offence for civilians to wear military uniform.
This followed a television broadcast where an actor was wearing what appeared to be an official SANDF camouflage uniform. The statement read, in part, “the unabated, illegal use of the military camouflage uniform was a cause for immeasurable concern” to the national defence force. Unauthorised use of the camouflage uniform can lead to either a fine or up to five years imprisonment or both according to the Defence Act.
The SANDF, in response to a defenceWeb enquiry, gave examples of action taken against people wearing the SANDF camouflage battledress.
“Military police arrested two artistes from Motupa village in Bolobedu, Tzaneen, on 8 December. The arrests followed a Facebook posting of a performance at a local nightclub. They were wearing full military combat gear.”
Two court appearances ended with the artistes found guilty in February and “told not be found in possession of any piece of SANDF uniform again”.
Of another illegal uniform wearing incident, SANDF Corporate Communications said: “A suspect from Free State was arrested at his residence in Turflaagte. The arrest followed a social media video showing an individual illegally wearing camouflage without authorisation. In consultation with the court, the suspect was released on warning to allow further investigation”.