ATT: ALL NEWS EDITORS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: 29 October 2020
SA Military Ombud addresses delegates during the 12th International Conference of Ombud Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF)
Speaking during the opening of the 12th Virtual International Conference of Ombud Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) on 26 October 2020, the South African Military Ombud Lt Gen (Ret) Vusumuzi Masondo said multi-sectoral collaboration and transparency by state
institutions entrusted with investigations can go a long way in the speedy resolutions of complaints lodged by those who are aggrieved.
On collaboration with the investigation on the death of Collins Khosa, allegedly at the hands of members of the SANDF and the South African law enforcement members. The Military Ombud said his Office engaged with both the Independent Police Inspectorate Directorate (IPID) mandated to investigate South African Police Services (SAPS) and municipal police services, and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) so that merits of the complaints are accessed without prejudice.
The conference takes place from 26 – 30 October, under the theme, “Impact of COVID-19 on Ombud Institutions for the Armed Forces.” and is hosted in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). It is a gathering of Ombud institutions for the armed forces from over 50 countries around the world and was established with the aim of developing best practices relating to the mandate, powers and functioning of these institutions.
Masondo pointed out lessons learned from the recent deployment of soldiers to enforce the law during the lockdown of the country due to COVID-19. “There is a need for “Pre-deployment Civilian-Handling Readiness” training for SANDF members in order to minimise foreseeable heavy-handedness when interacting with civilians. This resonates with the evolving roles of the armed forces from combat to non-combat situations such as COVID-19 deployment,” said Masondo.
He emphasised that the provision and acceleration of oversight over the fundamental human rights of both the armed forces and the public will bolster the efforts of building trust and must be accelerated.
Furthermore, the Office of the Military Ombud through its investigations and recommendations, has increasingly noticed that oversight could also help capacitate the existing military competences including crisis planning, command and control, logistics, and specialist medical support.
In conclusion, he said the recent developments offer an opportunity for Ombud institutions to revisit their role of visible monitoring, mediating, objective and balanced reporting, and ensure that trust is earned and sustained through proper governance and democratic practises within the armed forces.
The Office of the South African Military Ombud’s mandate is to investigate complaints lodged by current and former members of the South African National Defence Force(SANDF) concerning their conditions of service as well as members of the public concerning the official conduct of members. The complaints form is available for download on www.milombud.org.