Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise has been granted time to study the Military Ombud report on bad and spoilt military rations in Mozambique so she can “respond appropriately” to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD).
The investigation by a team from retired lieutenant general Vusi Masondo’s Centurion office was done in the wake of media reports on soldiers reportedly becoming ill after eating spoilt food and drinking apparently contaminated water in October last year. The Ombud report was tabled at a JSCD meeting last week with recommendations but it appears the committee now wants to hear from the minister in “an appropriate response”.
The JSCD said in a statement there were “worrying findings” in the Ombud report and it is “unacceptable” for soldiers to be fed “spoiled food” which has “a direct impact on their ability to deliver on their mandate”.
“Findings included confirmation the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) served rotten or spoiled food; that a mobile pantry was intermittently malfunctioning between 20 and 24 October 2021; no dedicated environmental officer was present during this period and some SANDF members were negligent in failing to ensure all food stored in a mobile pantry was properly disposed of,” the JSCD statement reads.
The JSCD wants Minister Modise to respond “next week” but no specific date is given with its statement saying: “Our decision to defer discussions is to ensure the Minister gives an account of what the Department of Defence (DoD) plans to do in light of the recommendations”.
“We are primarily concerned about the welfare of our soldiers and that due regard must be made to ensure they are given adequate support to enable them to perform their mandate,” JSCD co-chair Cyril Xaba is quoted as saying in the statement.