Thursday, April 23, 2015

Military justice on hold in South Africa

Military justice has come to a halt because the necessary judges have not been appointed. Here's the story, according to Defence Web:
The application of justice in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is on hold at present while the assignment of senior military judges is “being considered”. 
Military trade union Sandu (SA National Defence Union) earlier this week indicated its concern over what national secretary Pikkie Greeff called “the halting of military courts”. 
The union has on numerous instances taken the SANDF to court over labour related matters and has a high winning rate when it comes to judgements in favour of its members. 
“Sandu is gravely concerned that the entire Military Court system has been brought to a grinding halt due to the fact that the required letters of appointment for military judges have not yet been signed by the Department of Defence. 
“The effect is no trial can commence or continue until such time as the appointments have been finalised.

“It is astounding that the entire military justice system can be placed in jeopardy as a result of what appears to be poor or lax administration by the SANDF, who ironically are always quick to point out it needs to run a disciplined defence force,” Greeff said. 
Responding, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, the force’s director: corporate communication, said: “The process of assigning senior military judges is currently under consideration”. 
He did not indicate by when the process would be completed or when military courts would again start functioning. 
Greeff appealed to the Department of Defence to finalise the appointments as a matter of urgency. 
“Not only is the administration of military justice and discipline negatively affected, but the constitutional right to a speedy trial is also undermined,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parliament is considering a military discipline bill that would modify the country's military justice system, including creating a U.S.-style Judge Advocate General, to take the place of the current Adjutant General with respect to military justice matters. Details here

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