Monday, May 26, 2014

SANDF troops liberate comrades from police custody

The touchy matter of civilian jurisdiction over offenses by military personnel has been much in the news around the globe this year. The latest example comes from South Africa, where a news account reports that personnel of the South African National Defence Force freed 31 soldiers from policy custody after they had been arrested at a shebeen (unlicensed bar or club). Some details from the article:
Five days ago, a military general allegedly illegally deployed troops to get their colleagues out of police custody - but the authorities still can’t say what happened.
Only the president may authorise the use of troops within South Africa. On Wednesday night, the Presidency said no authorisation was issued, and that troops were in Oudtshoorn on training and exercises, which didn’t need authorisation.
Department of Defence spokespersons couldn’t offer any official explanation by late on Wednesday.
Police said as little as possible.
The general apparently went to the police station in Bongolethu, Oudtshoorn, after soldiers were arrested by police at a shebeen and demanded their release. When police refused to release them, the general allegedly called the Oudtshoorn base and about 120 armed troops in two Ratels and two buses arrived.
Police locked the door and armed themselves. There was no shooting and the soldiers were released.
The incident took place on Friday night, after a ceremonial handover of command at Oudtshoorn base.
“Assuming that is correct, then what we have is an extremely serious situation,” defence expert Helmoed-Römer Heitman said, adding a court martial should be under way.
“The commissioned officer involved in that should be in jail for life without the option of parole… It was a manifestly illegal act, a manifestly illegal order, no excuse at all, end of story,” Heitman said.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).