Parliamentary Committee must investigate Defence Minister’s lack of action on SANDF abuses

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to request that Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula be summoned to account for alarming abuses at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

This follows reports in the Mail & Guardian that the Minister and top SANDF officials have allegedly known about a possible serial rapist attacking women at the South African Military Academy at the SANDF base in Saldanha, and has done nothing about it.

According to reports, incidents involving a serial rapist dates back as far as 2017 and have yet to be properly investigated. An inquiry has, instead been launched into the breakdown of the relationship between the chaplain at the base, Nicolene Herbst, and the commandant at the base, Brigadier General Gerald Pharo, over the investigation of the cases.

One of the alleged rapist’s victims has since reportedly committed suicide. It is simply shocking that the inaction of high-ranking officers at SANDF would give free reign to such a monster and allow him to continue his attempts to destroy women’s lives.

There have been 41 reports of rape at various SANDF bases since 2018. While the Minister has appointed a task team to investigate the 41 reports, it is unclear whether the cases of the serial rapist falls under this investigation. Female troops serving to protect our nation should not be put in positions where they are unsafe on their own bases.

In a separate incident, a member of the public was shot by a SANDF officer in Mogwadi in Limpopo for allegedly not wearing a mask. Whilst a case of attempted murder has been opened, the Minister must account to Parliament regarding this incident.

SANDF and the Minister’s failure to decisively act in many SANDF abuses is shameful. Their inaction is protecting a possible rapist and SANDF officers who abuse their powers.

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula has proven time and again that she is unable to rise to challenges of her post. Parliament must urgently summon the Minister and the SANDF and hold them to account. The military is supposed to protect citizens of South Africa, and not put them in harm’s way.