The suspect arrested in connection with running a military recruitment scam has been identified as a former SA Defence Force (SADF) private, Petrus Ndaba, by Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, Director: Defence Corporate Communication for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
The 55-year-old appeared in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court this week following his arrest on charges including theft under false pretences. During the court appearance it emerged he joined one of the precursors of the SANDF in 1991 and was stationed at 115 SA Infantry Battalion, then headquartered in Pretoria. Mgobozi said in a statement Ndaba was arrested and charged with murder in 1993, tried in a civilian court and sentenced to 15 years in jail. The Pretoria News reports he served six and a half years of the sentence.
“At the time of his incarceration he was still a private,” Mgobozi said adding: “The SANDF wishes to unequivocally state the suspect was never at any stage in his short military career appointed as either an officer or a general officer and it is unfortunate he is being referred to as a SANDF colonel or general in some media”.
According to the Pretoria News the recruitment scam first became public knowledge last week when a group of people, aged between 18 and 30, were seen on the streets of the Akasia suburb Karen Park. They had bags, blankets and other belongings and said they had been evicted from a house in the suburb because of unpaid rent. Local police then arrested Ndaba, who allegedly styles himself leader of Amabutho Royal Defence.
The 259 prospective soldiers were all apparently recruited in KwaZulu-Natal by Ndaba, brought to Gauteng and housed in Akasia, part of the Tshwane metro. They allegedly paid up to R800 for registration and a further R1 800 for training as well as another R200 a month since arriving in Gauteng late last year. Indications are they underwent at least some military training and took part in “a military manoeuvres rehearsal” the Pretoria News reported. Ndaba had apparently also said they would get positions in the defence force and earn a salary of R13 000 a month.
Gauteng Department of Social Welfare provided shelter and food for the victims of the scam before arranging transport from them back to their homes.
There is currently no indication of when Ndaba’s bail application will resume and he apparently remains in police custody.