The Military Ombudsman Office has received more than 500 complaints since it was established in 2012.
Ombudsman Lieutenant General (retired) Temba Matanzima this week said his office had received 596 complaints since it was tasked with investigating complaints lodged in writing by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members regarding conditions of service.
Of these, 306 complaints were received during the 2012/13 financial year, while 290 were received the following year, according to SANews.
Matanzima said for the 2012/13 complaints, 104 were finalised and 202 were carried over. The following year of 290 complaints received, 240 were finalised.
Previous Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla officially opened the Military Ombudsman Office in Centurion, Pretoria, in 2013 – a year after the Ombudsman was appointed.
Speaking in Johannesburg, Matanzima said the role of his office was to gather facts in order to understand the merits of a complaint and thereafter consult all relevant parties to either settle the complaint or to make a recommendation to resolve the complaint.
“I wish to assure you my office is an independent and impartial watchdog that holds the SANDF to account much like the media does with government.
“We establish the allegations and the issues of a complaint, determine the laws applicable to the allegations and the issues, analyse the allegations and issues in accordance with the laws, make findings on the allegations; and make recommendations in order to resolve the complaint or provide redress where necessary to the complainant, preventing a recurrence of the problem.
“My office does not represent the complainant, the Department of Defence or any other government authority but is an independent, impartial third party that conducts an investigation in a fair and objective manner to ensure an accountable and transparent government,” he said.
The Military Ombudsman Bill was tabled in the National Assembly in September of 2011 and resulted in the Military Ombudsman Office becoming a reality in May 2012.
Matanzima said the scope of his office’s work extended to investigating complaints by former SANDF members regarding conditions of service, a member of the public regarding the official conduct of a member of the defence force, or a person acting on behalf of a member of the defence force, regarding conditions of service as defined in the Defence Act of 2002.
“Further to this, we may not investigate a complaint unless we have in writing informed every other interested party to the complaint of the receipt thereof and we are satisfied all interested parties have been provided with such particulars to enable them to respond to the complaint and submit a response to it,” he said.
Matanzima said complaints to his office ranged from promotions to salaries, allowances and transfers.