Military recruitment scams have become part and parcel of the wider – and dodgier – South African employment landscape with this year’s edition the first to take place in Pretoria, the country’s military capital.
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesman Colonel Ronald Maseko is reported by Eyewitness News as saying about 220 people, believed to be mostly young males, were allegedly promised training and employment in the military. The offers were made during what the news service called a military recruitment workshop in Pretoria.
According to preliminary information, a man who claimed to be a Colonel in the SANDF trafficked young people, both males and females between the ages of 18 and 30 from KwaZulu-Natal under the false pretence of employment in the SANDF.
Allegations are that the man collected an undisclosed amount of money from unsuspecting parents in KwaZulu-Natal. The young people are reported to have been stranded next to the Wonder Park Shopping complex since last week. Some are said to have left to unknown destinations.
The Gauteng Department of Social Development yesterday morning dispatched a team of social workers to the scene to assist with food and transportation of all victims back to their homes.
“The SANDF is attending to the matter through the military police,” the department said.
Maseko stressed the SANDF does not make use of “individuals, groups or groupings” to recruit. He also condemned activities aimed at “deliberately misleading the public regarding military recruitment”.
“Any such activities, including soliciting money with the promise of securing employment in the SANDF, should be reported to the closest police station or defence force base,” he said.
Similar military recruitment scams have previously been run in Western Cape, aimed specifically at the SA Navy and in Mpumalanga and North West provinces.
In one of the previous scams, the operators “guaranteed” entry to the ranks of the SANDF on payment of amounts ranging from R300 to R1 000.
The SANDF has its own central recruitment office, based in Pretoria, and makes use of various provincial and national exhibitions and shows, such as the Rand and Bloemfontein shows, for career and recruitment displays and information sessions.
An indication of why so many turned up for the alleged military training/work session came from SANews which this week reported a drop in employment of 48 000 jobs in South Africa’s formal, non-agricultural sector in the first quarter of this year.
According to government’s quarterly employment statistics there are now 9.644 million people employed in South Africa compared to 9.692 million in the last quarter of 2016.