Army members stationed in the area of the Zululand town of Pongola (in KwaZulu-Natal) have been in the brink after illegally searching residents’ homes and assaulting and intimidating the public.
Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in response to a parliamentary question by DA MP Maliyakhe Shelembe, confirmed that Pongola residents had lodged complaints against army members at the Pongola police station.
According to the minister, the complaints were related to allegations of illegal raids on private homes, which took place without warrants and without police guidance. Some residents were also assaulted by the soldiers during the illegal raids.
The complaints filed with the police include illegal behavior, theft and assault.
An investigation by the military has revealed that the allegations are correct and that the residents’ complaints hold water. Now the army members are doubly in trouble – they must defend themselves against a police investigation into criminal charges and at the same time against a military investigation that will be decided before a war council.
“The South African National Defense Force and I condemn the conduct of these members unconditionally and strongly. This is not how we do our work and we sincerely apologize to the people of Pongola, ”said Mapisa-Nqakula.
She gave assurances that Army protocol was violating the process and the Chief of Defense received direct instructions from her to ensure that such a thing never happens again.