About 20 trainee paramedics in the SA Military Health Services (SAMHS) maintain they are not being cared for by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) while they are trained to supply primary healthcare to their fellow soldiers.
According to Gauteng Afrikaans daily Beeld the group have not been paid at all this year. It appears their details have gone missing “somewhere in the system” and the lack of response from SAMHS and the defence force saw them approach Netwerk24 as a last resort.
The paper said the group were part of more than 200 selected for the emergency medical course after completing their first year of military training in the medical arm of service. Their contracts expired at the end of December and they were advised to join the Reserve Force because “there is no more money for volunteers”.
A family member of one of the affected trainees said while it appeared the military did not want them they were still made to stand inspections – “for which they have to buy their own polish” – and also had to take part in sports parades where the possibility of injury is increased. This is also disconcerting to the trainees and their families because as matters currently stand they do not have access to military healthcare.
What can be seen as the apparent straw that broke the camel’s back came recently when they were told their course would be cancelled if they continued to complain about not receiving salaries.
“They were told their duty was to study and not to make money,” the family member said adding the group was threatened with being charged if they took the matter up with Military Health Services headquarters.
The media enquiries saw the group called on by a Reserve Force representative who told them the necessary permission had now been given for them “to be put on the system”. He could not give an indication of when they would be paid.
A similar response came from SANDF director: corporate communications, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga. He said SAMHS was “aware” of the trainees and they would be paid “sometime” in the current financial year.