Defence Legal Services still under-achieving


The Defence Legal Services Division (DLSD) of the Department of Defence (DoD) “under-achieved” in terms of litigation settled in favour of the department.

The 2013/14 Department of Defence annual report notes it set a target of 60% (31 cases) and was successful in 23 of these, giving the lawyers in uniform a success rate of 45%.

However, this does not appear to be a true figure as the report states, “the division received 96 cases and attended to 83. Only 23 litigation cases were settled in favour of the DoD out of the 89 cases received. The reason for under-achievement was due to ongoing cases that may only be finalised over an extended period and some witnesses not participating timeously, which placed the cases in jeopardy”.

The report also indicates DLSD personnel “attended” to 781 boards of inquiry (BOI), conducted 510 preliminary investigations and received and processed 1 018 Military Police dockets. In the previous annual report DLSD was reported as “finalising 10 out of 22 BOIs” as part of “a concerted effort to manage the strategy on the management of anti-criminality in the DLSD”.

Military judges spent an average of just over 315 hours each in court during the period under review.

The report also notes R516 043 000 was earmarked for payment of claims against the DoD during the 2013/14 financial year.

While not in the period under review, it is apt to note that in August the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) was on the receiving end of yet another favourable court judgement. This time it was in connection with the attempted dismissal of 664 soldiers by way of notices placed in certain newspapers with regard to their alleged participation in the 2009 protest march at the Union Buildings. The judgement was handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

In what appears to be another ham-fisted legal challenge that also did not happen in the period under review, two SA Air Force (SAAF) officers are still awaiting finalisation of the charges against them in connection with the illegal landing of a civilian aircraft, chartered by the politically connected Gupta family, at AFB Waterkloof in April last year.