The Legal Services Division of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) will not look back on the 2012/13 financial year as a stellar one.
The Division managed only a 14.99% actual achievement in litigation capability and services, according to the latest DoD annual report. Noting this was an “under achievement,” the report points out that “cases are ongoing and may sometimes only be finalised over an extended period of time. Some stakeholders (witnesses) do not participate timeously”.
Of the 104 four cases that went to court in the last financial year, by far the majority of rulings – 90 – went against military lawyers with only 14 for.
According to the report there are 345 people employed on the legal side of the DoDMV and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
As far as force military prosecution services are concerned, legal services achieved 100% of the set target with the same outcome for provisioning of operations and legal advice pertaining to force preparation.
One example of an ongoing case is against soldiers who protested against poor working conditions and salaries in 2009. The protest, outside the Union Buildings, turned violent with damage to vehicles and property. This case is proceeding slowly, following special leave, “instructions” by SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke for those involved to return to their units, a series of pre-trial hearings and most recently, the resumption of the Military Court sitting at the Army Gymnasium in Heidelberg to hear the case against about 200 soldiers.
Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Shoke have been cited as respondents in a number of cases brought by the SA National Defence Union (Sandu). The union is representing a number of soldiers allegedly involved in the Union Buildings protest and has also taken up legal cudgels on behalf of two SA Air Force officers who were apparently involved in Guptagate, the unauthorised landing of a chartered Airbus A330 with civilians aboard at AFB Waterkloof earlier this year.
Now it appears Sandu is again sharpening its legal claws following reports of soldiers apparently being forced into denouncing their union membership.
“This campaign is being carried out under the guise of a so-called survey of union members in the SANDF, but it appears only Sandu members are being targeted,” national secretary Pikkie Greeff said adding “any legal steps necessary” would be taken.