The Chief of the South African National Defence Force (C SANDF) General Solly Shoke has ordered military personnel accused of taking part in a mutinous riot in august 2009 to report to their home bases on Thursday.
Shoke “issued a directive that all members of the SANDF who were placed on Special Leave following the incident of August 26, 2009 at the Union Buildings should report back to their home units by 08:00 on August 16, 2012, for the sole purpose of being informed of the outcome of their conduct [sic]. The processes will be discussed with each member on arrival at his or her mother unit. This directive does not replace the instruction placing the members on Special Leave.”
The Ministry of Defence late last month said the about 1300 personnel would be tried under “the military court system.”
After the August 26 fracas 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. SANDU took the matter to the High Court and challenged the manner in which the Department attempted to terminate the soldiers’ employment. The High Court ruled in favour of SANDU based on the fact that the procedure adopted in dismissing the soldiers was not fair.
A decision was taken by the department to appeal the matter straight to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) since leave to appeal was not granted in the High Court. The matter is to be heard in the SCA on August 20 this year.
On July 25 this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal addressed correspondence to the Department of Defence to enquire as to whether the department wanted to proceed with the matter or not.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, after receiving legal advice, and in consultation with the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, decided to withdraw the case from the SCA and to charge the soldiers under the military court system, the Department of Defence announced July 26.