Officials from the Office of the South African Military Ombud are visiting different military bases in Durban in an effort to educate current serving members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) about the mandate of the office and procedures that they need to follow when lodging a complaint.
The office is conducting the outreach programme with members of the SA Army, Military Police, Signal Unit, Military Health, Airforce Base and the Naval Base.
Established through the Military Ombud Act of 2012, the office is an independent, external mechanism to deal with complaints and grievances brought by current and former members of the SANDF regarding their conditions of service.
The office also assists with complaints brought by the members of the public against SANDF members on official duty.
Military Ombud Lt Gen (Ret) Vusumuzi Masondo said the office has the responsibility to empower those who serve in the SANDF so that they understand the procedures they need to follow in order to get assistance from the office.
“We will also be targeting community areas next to military bases and where there is deployment of soldiers. Members of the public have a right to complain concerning the official conduct of members of the SANDF in their authorised capacity,” Masondo said.
Masondo said the recent lockdown of the country due to COVID-19 gave rise to a number of complaints by members of the public regarding the official conduct of SANDF members.
“We have realised that there is also a need for our office to visit communities and educate them about their rights when they interact with the soldiers,” he said.
He said it is important for serving and former members to be informed about the existence of the office and the assistance they can receive when they have a complaint.
“Our job is to make sure that the complaints that come through our office are handled professionally and the rights of all citizens of the country are protected without compromise,” said Masondo.
The Military Ombud Act of 2012 also states that members of the public have 90 days to lodge a complaint with the office, from the date of the incident. – SAnews.