File photo by Matlhodi Madibana.

Large-scale desertions at the army headquarters in Pretoria during the working day have resulted in drastic action – employees are locked in to prevent them from leaving the premises.

The rule came into effect this week, and will be enforced as long as the authorities feel it is necessary to drum into soldiers that official working hours have to be taken seriously.

According to the army, there is nothing controversial about the rule, and that it was definitely time to crack the whip.

The new regulation followed increasing complaints of a lack of staff in the office, especially on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Employees have reportedly been abusing a long-standing rule in the army that allows soldiers who officially practise sport to leave with a “sport pass”. Most of the people who leave on a Wednesday do not take part in any kind of sport, it was established.

Now, the three building exits are being locked. – Sapa