Ombud torpedoes party at Simon's Town barracks
Defence force chief told to put a lid on antisocial behaviour by notoriously noisy navy recruits
The military ombudsman has come to South Africa’s rescue by demanding a crackdown on the navy’s infamous “party barracks” in Simon’s Town, where noise pollution has for years prompted numerous complaints from neighbours.
In a letter sent six weeks ago, ombudsman Lieutenant-General Themba Matanzima asked the chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke, to personally intervene in the complaint against the navy’s Waterfall Barracks, home to 400 navy recruits.
The move appears to have worked, with a marked improvement in noise over the past month, an affected resident said on Tuesday.The ombudsman’s letter makes specific reference to the residents’ concerns about excessive partying. Cars revving, loud music at inappropriate times and verbal abuse from some naval officers were detailed in a residents’ “incident logbook” submitted as part of the complaint.
“The complainants are complaining about the general antisocial behaviour by the residents of Waterfall Barracks,” the letter said. “This allegedly includes foul language, and racially offensive and sexually explicit lyrics coming from loud sound systems of motor vehicles at the barracks.
“The complainants further allege that the commanding officer has no control over the barracks as the residents are allowed to publicly consume alcohol while shouting and revving motor vehicles even at night time.
“Upon assessment of the complaint I have formed a view that although the conduct complained of is not necessarily ‘an official conduct’, it points to a breakdown of discipline in the unit and failure of command and control on the part of the command line of the unit. I appeal to your office to look into the matter as a matter of urgency and in the best interests of the adjoining civilian community.”Neither the navy nor the SANDF could be reached for comment on Tuesday but one of the complainants said the barracks had been noticeably quieter in recent weeks.
This was in stark contrast to the cacophony last year when one fuming neighbour remarked: “If anybody wants to invade South Africa I would recommend 4pm on a Friday – because the navy is pissed by then.”
The matter also drew the attention of City of Cape Town ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock, who confirmed a separate local government probe into noise levels at Waterfall barracks, so called because of its location close to a mountainside cascade.