The SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) director: corporate communication, maintains the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) has made “unfortunate insinuations” as regards soldiers suspended in the wake of the 2009 Union Buildings protest.
Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said in a statement: “The SANDF takes note of the unfortunate insinuations made by Sandu on the issue of the ongoing court case against members of the SANDF that took part in the illegal and violent march at the Union Building in August 2009.
“Sandu is free to exercise its Constitutional right to exist and should also allow the SANDF`s command structure to exercise its Constitutional responsibility to command the SANDF as a disciplined force as ordered by the Constitution, the White Paper on Defence and the Defence Act. Sandu`s leadership must allow the SANDF`s legal services an avenue to satisfy all its internal legal processes to interrogate available legal recourses as permitted and encapsulated in the legal statutes of the country prior to making devious calls.
“It can be appreciated if Pikkie Greef (sic), the secretary general of Sandu, can respect the command structure of the SANDF under the democratic government of the RSA as he respected the command structure of the SADF under the apartheid government. Unlike other freedom loving white compatriots who refused to be enlisted and chose instead to rather be jailed than to serve in the then South African Defence Force (SADF), he steadfastly chose to serve the SADF so dearly until his resignation when the former non-statutory forces members ascended to the command position of the SANDF.
“It is intriguing that he pretends to be a progressive person who cares for the members of the SANDF.
“If Sandu meets all the requirements to exercise its responsibility then it will do so and if it does not, it will continue using the media platform as a tool to make noise and seek popularity whilst misleading the people of South Africa.”
The SANDF statement follows comments made by the military trade union’s national secretary Pikkie Greeff after a tribunal early last week ruled in favour of Sandu saying the national defence force has no right to attempt to hold disciplinary hearings outside the military justice system.
Greeff is on record as saying that, had the military justice system been applied properly at the outset the while matter of the Union Buildings protesters would have been “put to rest a long time ago”.
“Instead the SANDF took poor legal advice and lost twice in the Supreme Court of Appeal when it, on both occasions, attempted to fire soldiers without a hearing,” he said.
Last week’s tribunal was yet another step taken by SANDF Legal Services in what has become a protracted and money consuming legal battle around the soldiers who allegedly went AWOL (absent without official leave) to take part in the September 2009 protest at the seat of government. The soldiers took to the streets protesting against living conditions at certain bases as well as for better salaries.