ATT: ALL NEWS EDITORS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: 19 May 2020
Military Ombud to investigate complaints lodged in writing
The South African Military Ombud continues to investigate complaints received by the Office during the State of National Disaster Lockdown. The Military Ombud would like to appeal to members of the public to ensure that complaints to his Office are lodged in writing using the prescribed Complaint Form found on the website.
According to the Military Ombud Act of 2012 the Office can only investigate complaints lodged in writing by current serving members, former members, members of the public, or a member representing the complainant.
The South African Military Ombud Lt Gen (Ret) Vusumuzi Masondo has indicated that it is critical that complainants provide details of the incident complained about to enable his office to do thorough investigations. “Our Act and Regulations prescribes the procedure to be followed in lodging complaints,” emphasized Masondo.
The Office has noted that a majority of complaints that are lodged through social media contain insufficient information. As a result, the office has availed Intake Officers to assist those complainants who are not able to submit the required information during this lockdown.
He further said that the Office is unable to deal with complaints that are before, or have been decided by, a Civilian or Military Court of law. Furthermore, the Office does not investigate cases of an alleged criminal nature as these are dealt with by SAPS or IPID.
The Office has already started assessing the complaints that were lodged from the onset of lockdown more specifically from members of the public. Some of these complaints have already been allocated for investigation.
Masondo said that Investigators are hard at work trying to gather all the facts and contact all complainants for further details. “The Ombud is required in terms of section 6 of the Act to inform in writing every other interested party to the complaint and afford all interested parties the opportunity to submit a response to the complaint,” said Masondo.
Once all interested parties have been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations of the investigations a report is compiled and sent to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans with recommendations. “The Minister will then instruct the Chief of the SANDF to implement those recommendations. Only the High Court can overturn our recommendations,” said Masondo.
To date, the Office has received at least 52 cases from members of the public and serving and former members of SANDF during the lockdown. Complaints from members of the public relate to heavy handedness, undignified treatment, and unlawful confiscation of property, amongst others and there are about 32 cases reported.
The 20 Complaints from serving members and former members of SANDF relate to service termination, receipt of benefits, grievances and grievance procedures.