Union Buildings protestors will not face public violence charges


Charges of public violence against 76 soldiers following the 2009 Union Buildings protest have been withdrawn.

The SA National Defence Union (Sandu) via its national secretary, Pikkie Greeff, said the withdrawal was vindication of the fact that no Sandu member “ever committed any offence relating to violence during the infamous march”.
“Five years after the march that saw property damaged, not a single soldier has been proven guilty of any offence despite the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) consistent insistence that soldiers committed security breaches and acts of misconduct on the day of the march.
“This finding (by the Military Court) finally puts to rest the lies and propaganda spread by the SANDF relating to the alleged misconduct by soldiers during the march on the Union Buildings,” he said.

The SANDF has, via its Director: Corporate Communication, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, confirmed charges of public violence “have been struck off the roll by the Court of Senior Military Judge, pending further particulars to be provided by the State as per the court order”.

He did not respond a defenceWeb enquiry on the status of soldiers put on “special leave” following the August 2009 march.

Greeff said “stringent legal action” would be instituted on behalf of 556 soldiers still on special leave for their alleged part in the march.
“This is because no charges have as yet been laid against them,” he said.

In June last year, Sandu scored more points in its ongoing legal tussle with the SANDF around the march. At least some of the soldiers said to have been on the march were alleged to have been AWOL (absent without official leave) and these charges against 58 soldiers were withdrawn in June last year.

The protest march saw more than 1 000 soldiers vent their unhappiness about conditions of service, including accommodation and salaries. Following the march, then Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu implemented salary improvements for soldiers. Additionally, the Department of Public Works undertook to improve facilities at at least two military bases – Doornkop, south of Johannesburg, and Wonderboom, north of Pretoria.