SA National Defence Union (Sandu) members who took part in the 2009 Union Buildings protest and were placed on apparent indefinite special leave are now all back in uniform and at work.
“They reported back to their various bases starting in August/September last year and have all undergone refresher training,” the military trade union’s national secretary, Pikkie Greeff, said today.
More than 500 soldiers who had not heeded previous appeals to return to their units and bases were told by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke, in May last year that the force was “uncomfortable with continuing to pay members who are simply sitting at their homes”.
“For that reason the Military Command, with legal advice, has decided members on special leave must be recalled. This will be done according to terms and conditions provided for in the Defence Act and other applicable policy documents,” he said in a nationally televised media conference last May.
Since then defenceWeb has on at least three occasions attempted to track progress of the recall involving 507 soldiers. The SANDF indicated that where and when the soldiers would have to report would not be made public because it was “an issue between the force and each and every affected member”. Subsequent enquiries to the then Director: Corporate Communications, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga and latterly to his successor, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, have gone unanswered.
Greeff indicated the affected Sandu members, said by Shoke to have disobeyed a 2012 CSANDF instruction by not returning to their bases and/or units, had received and responded to recall instructions issued after the May briefing.
While no official figures have been made available, Sandu estimates the salary bill for the soldiers on special leave to have been in the region of R560 million.
Sandu welcomed the Shoke announcement saying its members wanted to serve but Greeff said the issue of “career stagnation” would still be addressed by the union.