Charges against some SANDF marchers dropped


Charges against 72 of the soldiers who illegally marched to the Union Buildings in 2009 have been dropped due to insufficient evidence, while 225 underwent a pre-trial process that could lead to their conviction.

The 225 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members will stand trial in two months’ time for taking part in the August 2009 protest, in defiance of two military orders and a court order. The marchers tried to climb the fence surrounding the government complex during their protest to demand better salaries. Police used water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the soldiers after the march turned violent.

In total, 297 SANDF members appeared at the pre-trial process between 8 and 9 May at the SA Army Gymnasium, Heidelberg.

The process follows the successful completion of Preliminary Investigation (PI) and the drawing of charge sheets which was concluded on 21 February 2013, at 121 South African Infantry Battalion (SAI Bn), Mtubatuba Military Base. The pre-trial process involves only the SANDF members who were at Mtubatuba Military Base for the purpose of the Preliminary Investigation.

The purpose of the pre-trial was to inform the accused of their rights and of the date for the trial, the SANDF said in a statement.

This process has come to an end and the presiding judge postponed the matter to 9 July 2013 for trial.

Approximately 300 members reported back to face disciplinary action (and subsequently reported to 121 SAI Bn) while the 664 who failed to report to their home units for investigation were to be dismissed.

However, after the 600 plus names were published in mass circulation daily newspapers informing of dismissal, the members instituted a multi-million rand lawsuit against the defence ministry after the North Gauteng High Court found the adverts were unlawful and unconstitutional.