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SANDF loses appeal over soldiers’ march

Crime & Courts

Bloemfontein - The SANDF did not act fairly in taking disciplinary action against soldiers who took part in an illegal march, the Supreme Court of Appeal held on Thursday.

The court delivered judgment in an appeal by the defence department over a decision that its disciplining of the soldiers did not meet the requirements of justice and fairness.

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Members of the South African Air Force (SAAF) and army take part in a Capability Demonstration at the Roodewal Bombing Range in Makhado, in the northern province of Limpopo, May 9, 2013. South Africa’s air force showed off its military might on Thursday with precision bombing and helicopter gunships firing fusillades of rockets just days ahead of an unprecedented "peace enforcing" deployment to eastern Congo. Two months after 13 troops were killed by rebels in Central African Republic in South Africa’s heaviest military losses since the end of apartheid, Pretoria is gearing up to send 1,000 soldiers to Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile border with Rwanda and Uganda. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)

The soldiers are members of the SA National Defence Union. They were accused of disobeying a command to return to base after participating in an illegal march to the Union Buildings in 2009.

The appeal involves notices to the soldiers by the department, including media statements, published in two newspapers on November 14 and 15, 2012.

On Thursday, a full Bench of the SCA dismissed the appeal by the defence minister, the secretary for defence, and the chief of the SA National Defence Force.

The court said an employee had to be afforded adequate opportunity to respond and obtain help, such as from a trade union.

The facts of the case indicated the soldiers involved did not have enough time to obtain advice and help from their trade union, of whose existence the SANDF was well aware.

Sapa

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