Former national servicemen who registered as military veterans will remain on the national veterans’ database and be in line for benefits if they qualify in terms of a mean test.
This was confirmed to FF+ defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald by Department of Military Veterans (DMV) director-general Tsepe Motumi this week, eight days after an announcement that national servicemen on the veterans’ database would have their details deleted.
The political party and civic organisation, AfriForum, immediately took up cudgels of behalf of the estimated 16 000 former conscripts who took time to register with the DMV.
Groenewald said he would seek a meeting with Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and would also speak to Motumi about the issue.
“The definition in the Military Veterans Act of what constitutes a military veteran is very clear and former national servicemen do qualify,” he said.
Following a meeting with Motumi this week Groenewald said the director-general “once again confirmed” the names of servicemen who are on the database will not be removed.
His intervention comes at a time when the DMV has started a nationwide roll-out of a counselling and group therapy programme and published regulations pertaining to benefits, including healthcare, education and job assistance for registered and verified military veterans.
The regulations determine that, among others, to qualify for housing assistance and access to subsidised public transport, military veterans must earn less than R125 000 a year.
Groenewald said it was “illegal” for any names to be removed from the national military veterans’ database. This, because the law provides for an appeals board to hear any complaint or allegation of wrongdoing.
“Such a board has not yet been appointed and it is illegal to remove any data if the mechanisms for complaints to be heard are not in place,” he said.
The defence vote of the national budget, released yesterday by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, has put half a billion Rand in the coffers of the DMV for allocation to needy veterans in the 2014/15 financial year.