“We deal with cases brought by members or against members of the force without fear or favour” was how South Africa’s military Ombud put to rest allegations of interference in the workings of his office.
Retired lieutenant general Temba Matanzima, appointed Ombud three years ago, was speaking after an outreach programme to military bases in Free State and Northern Cape earlier this month.
He said questions had been raised by soldiers and others in uniform about the independence of his office.
“I would like to assure all SANDF members we are not politically influenced and will remain independent from the SANDF.”
He said the outreach programmes were important for both SANDF members and the public so they could understand the mandate and existence of the Ombud Office.
One of the prime reasons for the outreach programme was to educate military personnel on the correct processes that need to be followed when lodging a complaint.
“It is essential members understand they cannot approach the Ombud Office before following internal processes within the force. Our office will remain open to assist when they are not satisfied with the outcome of their grievances,” Matanzima said.
Since the Office was established a total of 960 complaints have been received at the Ombud’s EcoPark, Centurion offices. Seven hundred and forty-one have been finalised in accordance with the mission of resolving complaints against the SANDF in a fair, economical and expeditious manner.
In addition to investigating complaints laid by soldiers against their uniformed colleagues, the Ombud will also investigate complaints made by members of the public against SANDF personnel who are on duty.