Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula during a press briefing on sexual misconduct within the SANDF. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
Pretoria - Victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in the SANDF are reluctant to lay charges.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has appointed a task team to investigate such incidents.

The ministerial task team will deal with reporting, management and finalisation of cases of sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and offences in the SANDF.

This follows a report leaked a month ago revealing that 41 cases were reported. Of these, only 26 have been finalised, with 13 guilty verdicts and 11 acquittals.

However, Mapisa-Nqakula, who introduced the investigating team yesterday, said the accused in the cases were never punished.

She said there had also been cases reported by the UN.

“I think that the focus that we have had on sexual exploitation and abuse in the deployment areas, particularly the DRC, has made us have a blind spot to this scourge internally,” she said.

There were seemingly high numbers of incidents and cases that were unreported given the nature of the military command and control structure.

A group of psychologists and social workers will be working closely with the task team to assist the victims to open up.

The task team has been given a mandate to investigate cases dating back to 2014, as well as pending cases prior to 2014. The minister said there should be a focus on the management of sexual harassment in the workplace.

“The department wants to open itself up and show that this is not a matter that should be behind closed doors, we want to be open to scrutiny and self-correction, there is much respect for the SANDF but my confidence is limited,” she said.

She stressed that they wanted to determine why victims were reluctant and hesitant to testify.

A huge problem that Mapisa-Nqakula had was with the penalties imposed on accused persons - she said justice was not entirely served.

The task team is made up of chairperson Thoko Mpumlwana, Major-General Daphne Nodola, Britta Rotman and Dr Mongezi Guma.

Mpumlwana said they accepted the responsibility knowing the depth and importance of the work they had to do.

Pretoria News