Military Ombud investigating 85 cases

1683

The South African Military Ombud has finalised 258 cases in the current financial year and is working on another 85, Ombud Vusi Masondo has revealed.

Briefing the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) on 17 March, the retired Lieutenant General said that as of 28 February, his office has processed or is processing 343 cases, including 88 from the previous financial year (FY 2020/21), while 255 are from this financial year.

A total of 258 cases have been finalised in FY2021/22, representing a 75.2% finalisation rate.

Outlining the type and origin of complaints, Masondo explained that most (138) originated from current members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), followed by former members (82) and then members of the public (27). A small number of complaints (8) were received in the FY2021/22 year from non-statutory force members.

In terms of nature of complaints received, the majority (223), are about conditions of service, followed by official conduct (15). Most complaints (126) come from the SA Army, due to the fact that it is the biggest arm of service.

There was a huge spike in complaints about official conduct in the 2020/21 financial year, mostly by members of the public due to the deployment of the SANDF to fight the coronavirus pandemic – complaints included allegations of assault, damage to property, use of excessive force and general heavy-handedness by soldiers enforcing lockdown regulations. Complaint numbers tapered off this year.

With regard to challenges faced by the Ombud’s office, Masondo said responses from the SANDF remain slow, but a meeting between the Ombud’s office and the Chief of the SANDF last month should help mitigate the situation.

Another challenge is capacity – of the 89 approved posts in the Ombud’s office, and 63 planned, just 57 are funded, resulting in an overexpenditure in the compensation of employees (COE).