Crack­down on sex at­tacks in army


SEX­UAL ha­rass­ment will no longer be tol­er­ated within the SANDF.

This reaf­firmed com­mit­ment comes af­ter a min­is­te­rial task team held a meet­ing with the SA Mil­i­tary Om­buds­man over the mat­ter.

The meet­ing, led by Mil­i­tary Om­buds­man Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Vusumuzi Ma­sondo and chair­per­son Thoko Mpuml­wana, was con­vened to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the man­date of the Mil­i­tary Om­bud of­fice and touch on the is­sue of its co-oper­a­tion with the task team.

Ma­sondo said the meet­ing was im­per­a­tive as they were both tasked with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­tect­ing the ba­sic hu­man rights of those serv­ing in the mil­i­tary.

“Our of­fice will con­tinue to play a mean­ing­ful role in mak­ing sure that the fun­da­men­tal rights of those who serve are con­tin­u­ally pro­tected.”

Mil­i­tary Om­bud spokesper­son Nthom­bikayise Md­luli Jacha said the main thing now was to pro­vide the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion to mem­bers in need of help about who to speak to and where to go.

She said this would be done through road­shows and post­ing of the hot­line num­ber for con­tact.

The de­ci­sion by the Min­is­ter of De­fence and Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans, No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to launch the task team in De­cem­ber fol­lowed alarm­ing sta­tis­tics which re­vealed the high preva­lence of gen­der-based vi­o­lence in the army.

The sta­tis­tics in­di­cated that sex­ual as­sault of mil­i­tary per­son­nel was rife in bar­racks, as in­di­cated by per­son­nel who at­tended a con­fer­ence at Air Force Base Swartkop to deal with the re­ports of sex­ual as­saults.

The re­port that emerged from the con­fer­ence painted a bleak pic­ture of how women were be­ing sex­u­ally vic­timised by their col­leagues and com­man­ders.

The four-per­son task team is in­ves­ti­gat­ing about 41 cases of sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the mil­i­tary.

The Mil­i­tary Om­bud was cre­ated in 2012 to in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints by cur­rent and former mem­bers on their con­di­tions of ser­vices.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic can also ap­proach the of­fice to lodge a com­plaint on the of­fi­cial con­duct of a mem­ber of the SANDF.

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