Thursday, 02 April 2020

Pretoria: The South African Office of the Military Ombud has assured citizens that it remains open to assist those who feel aggrieved by the conduct of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the execution of their duties.

“We noted that the Department of Defence released a statement taking note of various allegations of abuse by deployed members of the SANDF who are supporting government’s efforts to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. In the statement the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans denounces any type or form of abuse committed by deployed soldiers against members of the public during the 21 days lockdown period,” said the office in a statement on Wednesday.

The South African Military Ombud Lieutenant General (Retired) Vusumuzi Masondo, said communities need to be informed of the existence of the office and the assistance they can get from it when a need to lodge a complaint should arise.

“Our job is to make sure that complaints that come through our office are handled professionally and rights of citizens of the country are protected without compromise,” he said.

Masondo’s comments come as Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, this week condemned any form of abuse committed by soldiers during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

The Minister’s remarks followed various allegations of abuse by members of the SANDF deployed in support of government efforts to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Office of the Military Ombud was established through the Military Ombud Act 4 of 2012, as an independent, external mechanism to deal with complaints and grievances brought by current and former members of the SANDF regarding their conditions of service.

Members of the public can lodge complaints regarding the official conduct of members of the SANDF.

Members of the public have 90 days to lodge a complaint with the Office, from the date of the incident, and if they have lodged a complaint with law enforcement agencies and the matter is before Court or the Court has ruled, the Office won’t have jurisdiction.

Process to lodge a complaint

Those who want to lodge a complaint with the Military Ombud office are advised to provide a description of the incident including date, time and place of incident.

Those lodging complaints are also required to provide the name/s of soldier/s involved (visible on their name tags on their uniform), as well as names and contact details of any witnesses among others.

However, the Military Ombud office does not have the mandate to deal with the conduct of South African Police Services (SAPS) members. Complaints relating to SAPS  members should be referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

The complaint form can be downloaded on www.milombud.org. Once completed, complainants can forward it via email intake@milombud.org or fax 086 523 2296.