Yet another round of apparent recruit abuse at the Infantry School has drawn scathing criticism from Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and a promise to get to the bottom of the claims “as a matter of urgency”.
She said she was “utterly disenchanted” with allegations of physical abuse and verbal assault at the school’s Oudtshoorn base. This in view of the fact that she last year asked the Military Ombudsman to investigate similar complaints at the same unit.
“A final report was produced and its recommendations were accepted by me. The recommendations were then handed the Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) for implementation. Accordingly, the recommendations in the report have since been implemented,” she said.
“I condemn in the strongest terms, the physical and psychological mistreatment of recruits and will ensure that strict action is taken against the perpetrators,” she said, adding that the most recent claims, by Sandu (SA National Defence Union), will receive priority for investigation.
The military trade union’s national secretary, Pikkie Greeff, said the claims of assault and abuse were made telephonically by recruits to their families. Apart from being jumped on, some recruits with open wounds and lacerations were apparently refused medical attention and others were told they couldn’t resign.
Greeff said the union supported tough military training but was totally against “thuggery, verbal and physical abuse”.
He maintains the SANDF has done “very little” to address the situation at the Infantry School, notwithstanding recommendations made by the Military Ombudsman.
“The recommendations were kept secret and there is no way of either determining their content or military authorities’ adherence to them,” he said.
The SANDF, in the person of its Director; Corporate Communications Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, said it could not comment on the recruit abuse allegations until such time as it had investigated and verified the claims.