While the military legal machine grinds its way to finalising disciplinary action against soldiers who took part in the 2009 illegal march on the Union Buildings, another massive lawsuit is on the way.
Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, Director: SANDF corporate communication, said that, “Military disciplinary action has been instituted against the 297 members who reported back to their home units as instructed by SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke.
“Six hundred and sixty-four members failed to report and administrative action has been instituted against them.”
Those who did not report to home bases and units following publication of their names in mass circulation daily newspapers took their case to the North Gauteng High Court after being informed they would be dismissed. The Court ruled in their favour and the country’s largest military trade union SANDU (SA National Defence Union) has again taken up the cudgels on their behalf.
National Secretary Pikkie Greeff said the publication of 600 plus soldiers’ names in mass circulation daily newspapers was “a malicious action” as it accused them of criminal conduct.
“This is now the subject of a multi-million Rand lawsuit by those members against the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. The necessary papers have already been issued,” he said.
The lawsuit follows the court finding that the newspaper advertisements were unlawful and unconstitutional as were subsequent notices sent to members telling them to return to home bases and units.
Mabanga said military disciplinary action has been instituted against soldiers who heeded the call to report back to their units.
“Supplementary charges have also been presented to those who responded late to the instruction,” he said but did not give details of the charges.
He also did not reveal which units had been affected by the march and the subsequent special leave granted to participants.
“Functioning and capability of the units was not affected,” was his comment which has now been pounced on by SANDU.
“It is odd the SANDF now claims the absence of soldiers did not disrupt military readiness. This is the exact opposite view to that blurted all over the media when the SANDF attempted to contain the fall-out from the Union Buildings incident.
“At that time the SANDF claimed the marchers abandoned their units and bases creating a security threat to the country. Now it appears their absence for the last three years was not a problem,” Greeff said.