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Union wants banned soldiers back at work

THE South African Security Forces Union has called for the reinstatement of hundreds of soldiers who were suspended last year after staging a protest outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The union said yesterday it was unconstitutional to keep the soldiers at home as some had since "died but were never afforded proper funeral services as serving members of the SANDF".

"The members cannot access military health institutions, are not sent on courses . and are mentally and emotionally abused."

Yesterday a group of union members, supported by the ANC Youth League, gathered in District Six, Cape Town, for a peaceful protest.

They could not march to Parliament after the Ministry of Defence successfully applied for an urgent interdict in the Western Cape high court. The state argued that it had not been given ample time to look into their grievances.

Sasfu president Bhekhinkosi Mvovo said they respected the court ruling but that would not stop them from marching in future. He said they were planning to have protest marches in Cape Town, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

"It's not a total ban of our march . we are going to have marches whether they like it or not. We have made our point ... we will continue to be a nerve pain," Mvovo said.

The protest was watched closely by a huge contingent of military police in riot gear and the police. The protesters seemed unfazed by their presence as they sang and danced.

Union provincial chairperson Aaron Mtana said they were also demanding a salary rise of 8,6percent and a R1000 housing allowance for members.

The union is also demanding an end to what it called harassment of its members in the defence force.

"There must be a good climate for union engagements and activities as defined in the general regulations of the SANDF," Mtana said.

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