All apparently not well at the Infantry School


Allegations of assault and verbal abuse have again surfaced at the SA Army’s Infantry School at Oudtshoorn.

The base in the Klein Karoo town does not have the best of reputations as a military training institution and has been singled out by Sandu (SA National Defence Union) as “notorious for its bad leadership and high troop casualty count”.

It has in recent times apparently seen recruits, including women, humiliated, while a recruit was found dead, apparently of hypothermia. A punitive training session last year saw a board of enquiry set up to investigate whether officers or instructors went too far after several recruits reportedly had to undergo medical treatment following the session.

Also last year, an apparent confrontation between police and soldiers outside a shebeen led to another official enquiry. The incident allegedly was sparked by intimidation by a senior Army officer to have arrested soldiers released from police custody.

Now Sandu, in the form of its national secretary Pikkie Greeff, said it is “gravely concerned about increasing reports of recruits being physically assaulted and verbally abused” at the Oudtshoorn military base.

Complaints reaching the military trade union include instructors jumping on the backs and chests of male and female recruits, refusing medical attention to recruits with open wounds and racist verbal abuse.
“Other complaints are that certain recruits have been refused the right to tender their resignations and are forced to remain at the base against their will. At the same time they are forced to take part in training and subjected to more abuse,” he said.

Greeff said the union has no problem with tough military training but “outright thuggery, verbal and physical abuse and criminal conduct by instructors is condemned in the strongest terms”.

He maintains the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has done “very little” to address the Oudtshoorn situation. This is despite recommendations apparently made by the Military Ombud.

Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, Director: Corporate Communication, said: “The SANDF is not in a position to respond to allegations made by Sandu in its statement without any verification of the allegations and/or facts”.

He indicated the defence force had seen and read Sandu’s statement.