Johannesburg -

An independent inquiry should be held into the suicide of a woman recruit at a military base in Oudtshoorn, the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) said on Friday.

“It is detestable that the recruit in question was, according to her suicide note and other witnesses at the base, subjected to utter humiliation by the base management cadre,” spokesman Pikkie Greeff said in a statement.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said there would be an inquiry.

“This happens in any matter of loss of property or loss of life. If higher authorities deem it necessary, there will be an independent inquiry,” he said.

“Where there is loss of life, the police are called in and they have also opened an inquest docket.”

The woman committed suicide on Tuesday.

“Sandu demands that the officer commanding be relieved of command of the base immediately and charged with contravening military law for ill treatment of subordinates and unseemly behaviour,” Greeff said.

He said there was concern that the mood at the base was reaching boiling point.

“Proof of that fact is that an anonymous letter was found by members of the base at the suicide scene... “

He said that in the letter, complaints about the commanding officer's management style were voiced and a warning was made that recruits might turn their R-4 rifles on him.

“The department of defence is implored to act decisively and swiftly to deal with this situation in order to avoid another tragedy in the making,” Greeff said.

Mabanga said Sandu was creating a problem where there was none.

“They are trying to incite members to revolt against the SANDF. It is just unacceptable.”

There were proper channels SANDF members could follow to lay complaints.

“So, the complaints by Sandu are just unfounded. They are just playing with the sentiments of the people.” - Sapa