Illegal SANDF marchers returning to home units

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The South African national Defence Force (SANDF) has begun re-integrating members who were placed on special leave after the illegal march to the Union Buildings in 2009.

SANDF members who are currently at 121 South African Infantry Battalion at Mtubatuba in Kwa Zulu Natal undergoing a Preliminary Investigation will return to their home units after the investigation is either completed or postponed, the Department of Defence (DoD) said yesterday.
“In order to ensure a smooth running of this process, the SANDF has put in place support mechanisms for the members whenever the need arises. These mechanisms include spiritual, social and psychological support,” the DoD said.

Last week the Chief of the SANDF issued an instruction revoking the letter that placed some members on Special Leave. The instruction only applies to members who have obeyed instructions by returning to their home units and then proceeding to Mtubatuba.

In August 2009, soldiers illegally marched on the Union Buildings in defiance of two military orders and a court order. They tried to climb the fence surrounding the government complex during their protest to demand better salaries. Police used water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the soldiers after the march turned violent.

After the incident the soldiers each received a notice informing them of their “provisional dismissal”. They were accused of attending an illegal march, failing to obey orders, failing to dissociate themselves from violent protest, mutiny and of scandalising the SANDF. They were informed that their continued employment would constitute a security risk. The notice called on members to prove, within 10 days, why they should not be permanently dismissed. The notice and consequent paid suspension of the soldiers led to a years long court battle between the South African National Defence Union (SANDU) and the SANDF.



Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in late July decided to charge roughly 1 300 personnel under the military court system.