The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) refuses to disclose more details about why a senior member of the army is still at work after several charges of sexual harassment were lodged against him. The case against him will be heard in September and legal experts believe he should have been suspended for a long time, until the case is settled.
The 53-year-old colonel is the commander of a unit within the army responsible for leading, planning and conducting military operations such as the current state of disaster due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The complainants are all young non-commissioned officers in the reserve force who have been called up for service. Each has been appointed by the colonel as his personal assistant in the recent past, which involved accompanying him on visits to other units across the country as well. During these official visits, they were apparently exposed to unsolicited sexual approaches by the colonel.
He is a married man, but the women claim in affidavits that he regularly called them after hours, showed up at their private residences at inconvenient times, questioned them and sent them extremely personal WhatsApp messages in which he stated unequivocally that he was thinking about them and his desires. “You must know if it is not today, then it is tomorrow,” reads one of the messages.
Adv. Pikkie Greeff, the spokesperson for the military union SANDU, says “This is once again proof of the double standards in the army. Troops are suspended without further ado while officers appear to be invulnerable. There are clearly two sets of rules , ” he says.
Criminal law lawyer Oeloff de Meyer believes it is absolutely unacceptable that the colonel is still at work and that the complainants are further harmed by it. “He simply should no longer be there, and I think they should take further steps outside the military environment,” he suggested.