Task team to probe sexual abuse in SANDF, where many cases go unreported

A South African newspaper reported that 41 sexual-related offences, ranging from rape to crimen injuria, were reported within the SANDF over 18 months. File photo.
A South African newspaper reported that 41 sexual-related offences, ranging from rape to crimen injuria, were reported within the SANDF over 18 months. File photo.
Image: GALLO/GETTY IMAGES

Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Monday launched a task team to investigate cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Speaking at a press briefing in Pretoria, Mapisa-Nqakula said the ministerial task team (MTT) would investigate the reporting, management and finalisation of sexual offence cases within the SANDF.

The team will be led by Commission on Gender Equality deputy chairperson Thoko Mpumlwana and has three other members, namely correctional services manager Britta Rotmann, retired Maj-Gen Daphne Nodola and former CRL Rights Commission chairman Mongezi Guma.

The decision comes after the UN threatened the expulsion of SA peacekeeping troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo when allegations emerged that soldiers sexually abused local women there.

The Mail & Guardian reported that 41 sexual-related offences, ranging from rape to crimen injuria, were reported within the SANDF over 18 months.

“This is not only against the consistent calls I have made about sexual exploitation and abuse in the deployment areas, but the realisation that the problem is just as prevalent within the SANDF inside the country in our bases and units,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

“There are also seemingly high numbers of incidents and cases that are unreported. It was against this background that I established the ministerial task team.”

The MTT has been mandated to investigate and finalise cases dating back to 2014, analyse legal and procedural frameworks within the SANDF, and make recommendations on how to more effectively report and conclude cases. It will also determine what sentences have been meted out to offenders and whether these were suitable.

The team will also oversee the establishment of a sexual offences reporting hotline and put in place measures to protect and support victims.

Fielding questions from journalists, Mapisa-Nqakula said although there were budgetary constraints, the alleviation of sexual offences in the SANDF was a priority.

“Yes there are budgetary constraints but in spite of budgetary constraints, this must be done. You can’t have a situation where we cover up issues of sexual exploitation and abuse. People who do these kinds of things do not belong in the SANDF,” she said. 

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