The SANDF’s illegal behaviour came to light as a result of a parliamentary question to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Maliyakhe Shelembe.
According to the minister, the SANDF received a report of complaints from some community members in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, with allegations of illegal house raids and searches conducted by members of the defence force.
“Central to the allegations was the fact that the SANDF conducted the house raids illegally without the South African Police Service (SAPS) in attendance, and without search warrants. They are also alleged to have ill-treated some community members during the raid,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
The affected community members opened criminal cases at the Pongola police station and laid charges of illegal conduct, theft and assault by the SANDF soldiers.
Internal SANDF investigation confirms allegations
“The SANDF duly responded by conducting an internal investigation to verify these allegations and community complaints. The internal investigation found the allegations to be true and the complaints of the community members to be genuine,” the minister explained.
She added that the SANDF will allow the legal process to take its course as per the criminal cases currently in the hands of the SAPS.
“The SANDF has already commenced with the internal military processes of those involved and those found responsible will be dealt with accordingly,” Mapisa-Nqakula threatened.
She also condemned “this unbecoming conduct” on behalf of herself and the SANDF.
“This is not how we conduct our business and, as the organisation charged with the responsibility to protect and defend the people of South Africa, we tender our sincere apologies to the affected community members as well as to the entire community of Pongola, she said.
‘Effective disciplinary action’ to be enforced
She said a few SANDF members were tarnishing the good name of the entire force and she would not allow the good work done by the bulk of the SANDF to be sullied by such.
“As a consequence of these incidents, I have directed SANDF commander General Solly Shoke to ensure that effective disciplinary actions are undertaken against those found to have been responsible. He is also to ensure that effective measures are in place to prevent similar incidents in future,” Mapisa-Nqakula concluded.