The SA National Defence Union (Sandu) has dismissed as “laughable” a statement by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) warning against a commemorative march on the Union Buildings on Monday.
Union general secretary Pikkie Greeff, when told of the planned march, simply laughed and said “if there is going to be any march on Monday then the SANDF must be behind it because Sandu definitely isn’t”.
The August 26, 2009, march on government’s administrative headquarters by more than 1 000 soldiers was in support of demands for better pay, housing and other facilities. It degenerated into a violent protest with damage to property, including SAPS and Tshwane metro police vehicles.
Since then various forms of legal action have been taken against the marchers, from “special leave” to pre-trial proceedings, arraignment, preliminary investigation and drawing up of charge sheets. The legal process is currently on hold after the Sandu legal team objected because military prosecutors apparently refused to provide further particulars.
Speaking after the cessation of proceedings at the SA Army Gymnasium in Heidelberg in July, Greeff said the refusal to supply information was “a breach of the Constitutional rights of the accused (145 of those on trial are Sandu members) as far as equality before the courts is concerned.”
There was, at the time of publication, no indication of when legal proceedings will resume in Heidelberg.
On allegations of a march to mark the fourth anniversary of the Union Buildings march, SANDF Director: Corporate Communications Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said: “It is alleged that with this march, Sandu will hand over grievances and commemorate the 2009 march by soldiers to the Union Buildings. On August 26, 2009, soldiers or members of the SANDF illegally marched to the Union Buildings in defiance of military and court orders. The SANDF has since the march put in place additional measures to address members’ grievances. These measures include a Grievance Board and the Military Ombud.
“The SANDF warns that should any of its members be found to have contravened Military Code of Conduct, Constitution or any of the defence force’s regulations, they will be dealt with accordingly,” he added.