Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Daily Maverick op-ed on cratered SANDF prosecutions

The Daily Maverick has this long op-ed by Pikkie Greeff, National Secretary of the South African National Defence Union, on a failed mass prosecution of South African National Defence Force personnel. The whole piece is worth reading; here are some excerpts:

On 3 March 2015 the last of some 225 SANDF soldiers, tried in Military Courts for their alleged role in the infamous Union Building march of 2009, walked out of court after charges against them were dropped. This marked the end of an SANDF prosecution process which started in October 2012 and resulted in four separate – and apparently entirely futile - military trials.
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After five years the SANDF cannot show a single conviction, refuses to cooperate with SAPS detectives and has spent well over R2m on a trial which was never going anywhere. The members who were cleared are currently suing the SANDF for malicious prosecution and career progression damages. This will amount to a total claim of hundreds of millions of rands. In addition, the SANDF has been paying R480m to those soldiers still on suspension despite having no case against them at all. These soldiers will in due course also sue the SANDF for career progression damages. 
It is time to consider the facts instead of simply lazily clinging to the propaganda spread by the Zuma regime to save itself political embarrassment on this score. It is also time for some journalists and commentators to accept that their sensational claims of ‘soldiers storming the seat of government’, was and is dishonest. Anyone who has ever been to Pretoria will know that the lawn where the firing upon soldiers occurred is a mere kilometre from the actual Union Buildings, which in any event is surrounded by impressive security measures and barricades. 
It remains disconcerting that the SANDF has proven that it will not only without hesitation infringe on its own soldiers’ civil rights, but will also go to great lengths to provide political cover for the ineptness of government. It is willing to brutalise soldiers’ deprivation by unlawful use of force and then lie in an attempt to deceive its way out of accountability. That is anything but good and trustworthy military leadership.

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