Pretoria - A court has ordered the Ministry of Defence to assist in tracing the relatives of a former high-ranking official in the SA Navy, so that they can consider launching an application in terms of the Mental Health Act for the officer to undergo mental observation.
A Western Cape High Court acting judge said it would be in the interests of justice to possibly examine the mental well-being of the officer (who has not been identified for compassionate reasons).
The order followed yet another application by the officer earlier this month in which he made a long list of demands, including that President Cyril Ramaphosa, cited as the second respondent, must amend the national anthem. The officer said the phrase “let us live and strive for freedom in South Africa our land” must be replaced with “let us live and enjoy freedom in the Universe our home”.
He also called for an order forcing the president to “imprison those (various navy officials) for life for torturing him”.
It appeared that things went wrong, especially after the officer was charged with five counts of alleged misconduct within the navy. It is not clear from the High Court judgment what the charges entail.
But over the past few years the officer has bombarded the court with various “nonsensical” urgent applications, running to more than 500 pages each. He was eventually told that before he litigated again, he had to obtain the permission of the court to do so.
In his latest application issued earlier this month, the officer said “the national anthem affects us all, including our children and their children's children”.
He said as a child’s best interests were of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child, the court had to step in urgently.
He said in his court papers: ”I am the defence force. I serve and defend my country and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and with honour, dignity, courage and integrity.”
He called on Justice Raymond Zondo to ensure that all his (the applicant’s) witnesses would be at the court when his (the applicant’s) case was called. Another demand was that the court manager had to ensure that there were loudspeakers and a projector available in court that day, as he said that he would be presenting “video evidence”.
The officer further said in his court papers: “I defend and protect the Constitution, the territorial integrity and the national sovereignty of the republic and our democracy, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Acting Judge DM Thulare, however, said justice demanded that steps be taken to locate the relatives of the applicant in order to determine their capability or availability to make an application as envisaged in the Mental Health Care Act, to establish if the officer required help and whether he understood the proceedings before the court in light of statements made by him, as well as his general conduct.
The judge referred to the charges brought against the officer earlier by the navy and commented: “It is the events arising out of these developments and their consequences in his life which, in my view, appear to have had an adverse effect on the plaintiff.
“I have my doubts about the state of his intellectual functions and the degradation of his memory. This may explain his warped (court) papers,” the judge said.
He ordered the minister of defence to trace the relatives of the plaintiff and provide all the necessary assistance for them, if they so elect, to file an application in terms of the Mental Health Act, if they so wished.
The judge said the minister must file a report to the court regarding the situation.
It was further ordered that if the officer’s family were unwilling to make such an application, he then had to present himself to a district surgeon on or before March 9 next year for a mental evaluation.
The judge postponed the matter to March 15.