The intensity of legal wrangling between Sandu (SA National Defence Union) and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has now reached the level where warrants of arrest for the country’s highest ranked soldier and two other top men have been issued.
SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke, SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang and defence secretary Dr Sam Gulube are all facing arrest on contempt of court charges. At the time of publication it was not clear whether the warrant had been executed with the only indication of the way forward coming from Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, SANDF Corporate Communications Director. He said in a statement: “Senior counsel, acting on behalf of the SANDF will be urgently approaching court for a stay of execution (on the arrest warrant order issued on Tuesday)”.
The arrest warrants follow a court order obtained three weeks ago. It found Shoke, Msimang and Gulube in contempt of a previous court order directing them to reinstate four members of the SAAF, backdated two years, after an allegedly unfair dismissal.
All four joined the airborne arm of service utilising the MSD (military skills development) package and were employed as firefighters at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion. On completion of their two years’ service, specified in the MSD contract, they were apparently not offered a further contract period, this despite positions being open in their particular mustering.
Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff said SANDF leaders “appear to regard themselves as being above the law”.
“This is because they have failed, without any reason, to comply with High Court orders against them. The leadership of the SANDF cannot expect members in the military to have respect and trust in their leadership when that very leadership irrevocably damages its integrity and credibility by failing to comply with orders of SA courts.”
This latest escalation in ongoing skirmishing, both inside and outside the courts, between the largest military trade union and the SANDF could lead to yet another charge of libel being laid against the defence force. It currently has no less than three charges of libel, all brought by Greeff, to defend in court.
According to Mabanga’s statement, issued late on Tuesday, the SANDF is “shocked but not surprised the behaviour and tendency (sic) of Mr Pikkie Greef (sic) has found its way to the courts”.
The one star general called on the trade union national secretary to “stop misleading the public about SANDF affairs”.