Sunday, November 1, 2015

Due process issue raised in SANDF repatriation cases

Barry Bateman, writing for Eyewitness News, reports here on the South African National Defence Union's threat to sue if the armed forces insist on summarily separating personnel who were repatriated from the DRC for misconduct:
The South African National Defence Union is threatening to interdict the defence minister if its members are not given a fair hearing to answer to allegations of ill-discipline and misconduct.

This relates to 47 soldiers who were recently repatriated from the Democratic Republic of Congo for allegedly breaking a curfew by leaving the base.

The soldiers have now been served with letters of intention to discharge.

The union’s Pikkie Greeff says the 47 soldiers have been given a week to explain why they should not be discharged.

“This constitutes a completely unlawful process of dismissal or disciplinary action. As every soldier in terms of law is entitled to a trial by the military court.” 
The national defence force’s Xolani Mabanga says they’re acting within regulations.

“There is nothing that prevents or prohibits the South African National Defence Force from discharging these members administratively.” 
Greeff says they intend approaching the courts to compel defence headquarters to give the soldiers a proper hearing.
Recall that not long ago there was a question as to whether the SANDF had the judges needed to conduct trials. SANDF said it did. Might this have something to do with the decision to proceed by administrative separation rather than disciplinary action? 

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