Unabridged statement: South African Legion of Military Veterans on Mil Vets Bill


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected President, told the assembled South African and Commonwealth veterans at the British Commonwealth Ex-services League’s 75th Anniversary held in Cape Town in 1996 as Patron-in-Chief of the Legion:
“The South African Legion’s acceptance of veterans of Umkhonto we Sizwe and APLA as members puts the organisation at the heart of reconciliation which is feeding the new patriotism of the New South Africa.”

The Legion notes that recent statements by Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla have departed from this path of national reconciliation as shown by President Mandela and by the SA Legion.

In statements to the Portfolio Committee on Defence on May 25, 2011, Mr Makwetla argued for the exclusion of many groups of veterans, including former National Servicemen and also potentially other groups. The Deputy Minister made similar statements in an article in The New Age newspaper of June 9, 2011.

The SA Legion’s openness to veterans of all backgrounds was not new when President Mandela praised it in 1996. The Legion had opened its membership to all races in 1977 and fought for equality in veteran pensions across race lines as well as the scrapping of the “dompas” system. The Legion had stood up to the government of the day for Black, Coloured and Indian veterans when they were not “politically correct” and will stand up for white veterans now that they are in a similar predicament.

The SA Legion hopes Deputy Minister Makwetla will change his position and return to the spirit of reconciliation as expressed by President Mandela in 1996.

For further information, contact the National President, Lt. Col. Godfrey Giles, or PR Chris Szabo:

Telephone: 011-486-4533

Fax: 086-0684-8592

E-mail: [email protected]

Telephone: 012-343-0450

E-mail: [email protected]