Frequently asked questions

An independent and impartial Military Ombud Institution

 

What is the Military Ombud doing about the complaints of the SANDF members who went on strike in 2009?

The Office of the Military Ombud has not to date received any complaint directly emanating from the activities of that day and therefore has not had an opportunity to look into the matter.

Why is the Minister of Defence having a final say in the Military Ombud’s’ recommendations?

The Minister is the political head of the DOD and exercises control over its functioning and therefore better placed to direct the command channel to comply with the recommendations of the Military Ombud.

How do you lodge a complaint with the Military Ombud?

A complaint must be lodged on the prescribed Military Ombud Complaint Form. This form is obtainable from the Military Ombud website and can also be downloaded from the DOD Intranet. The form must be completed and submitted via post, fax, and e-mail or by personal delivery to the Office.

Do you accept complaints that did not go through the Individual Grievance System?

The Ombud may refuse to investigate a complaint if a member has not first used the mechanisms available under the Individual Grievance Regulations, 2010, unless the complaint relates to problems inherent in the system which bring about an adverse result to the complainant.

Is there any possibility to have Military Ombud offices in other provinces?

Ideally yes, in practice the decision to open provincial offices would be influenced by the extent of caseload for each Province.

What does the MOU’s with the Sec Def and the C SANDF entail?

The MOU outlines co-operative operational framework and the necessary steps to develop suitable standard working procedures and further resolve any dispute or misunderstanding through consultation and negotiation between the signatories.

What should I do if not satisfied with the decision of the Military Ombud?

Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Ombud may apply to the High Court for review of that decision within a period of 180 days of the decision of the Military Ombud.

How effective is the Military Ombud with regard to giving feedback to complainants?

At all material times, the Military Ombud endeavors to keep the complainants regularly informed of all developments around their complaints. In order to increase its accessibility the complainants the Military Ombud has opened a toll free line where enquiries may be made about a complaint.The Office also accepts “walk-ins” by complainants where such is justified.

How is the Military Ombud related to other Chapter 9 Institutions as it does not seem that it is a Chapter 9 Institution?

The Military Ombud has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with a number of Chapter 9 Institutions with the view to facilitate co-operation with those Institutions. Where a matter falls outside the jurisdiction of the Military Ombud, he may refer that matter to any Chapter 9 Institution for investigation.

Do you have any means of protecting a complainant against victimization after lodging a complaint?

Any complainant who, on reasonable grounds, fears or suspects that he/she may be victimised subsequent to lodging the complaint must inform the Military Ombud accordingly so that a specific recommendation may be made to the Minister with regard to his/her protection.

How long does it take the Military Ombud to finalise a complaint?

The finalisation of a complaint is influenced by a number of factors e.g. availability of information and witnesses and the complexity of the complaint itself. For this reason the finalisation may vary between 30 to 180 days depending on the factors mentioned above.

Whose interest is the Military Ombud representing as it seems he also reports to the Minister of Defence?

The Ombud and staff members must serve independently and impartially and must perform their functions in good faith and without fear, favour, bias or prejudice, subject to the Constitution and the law. The Military Ombud does not represent the complainant or the DOD but is an independent arbiter between the parties.

Does the Military Ombud have powers to enforce recommendations?

No. The Military Ombud makes recommendations to the Minister for implementation under the provisions of the Military Ombud Act. In law the Military Ombud has no enforcement powers.

What is the difference between the Defence Service Commission and the Military Ombud?

The Defence Force Service Commission advises the Minister on the determination of conditions of service of members of the SANDF whereas the Military Ombud’s office ensures that the DOD adheres to those conditions of service.

What is the procedure to summon a person?

A summons may only be issued in circumstances where the Military Ombud is not receiving co-operation from an individual. The summons shall be served by any person authorised by the Ombud by delivering it to the person named therein to his or her residence or place of employment or business so that he is in possession thereof at least fourteen days (Sundays and public
holidays excluded) before the date appointed for the appearance.

Why is it necessary to follow the individual grievance procedure if the Military Ombud can deal with the complaint, as the internal resolution of the complaint might take time due to internal obstruction of the process?

The Military Ombud is not there to replace the channel of command within the SANDF but to provide an independent appeal mechanism for the members once they have exhausted the internal procedures. In instances where there is internal obstruction to the internal processes the member may then report such matter to the Ombud for an intervention.

Does the Military Ombud have time frames within which a complaint must be lodged?

A member or their representative must lodge a complaint within a period of 180 days from the date on which the Grievance Board made its decision regarding his or her grievance; a former member within a period of 180 days from the date on which he or she became aware of the issue that gave rise to the complaint.

A member of the public who wishes to complain about the official conduct of a member of the Defence Force, must lodge a complaint within a period of 90 days from the date on which he or she became aware of the act or omission concerned.