Indefensible! SANDF splashes out R17m on suspended staff
And minister of Defence fails to tell parliament why, or what they are going to do about the waste of money
Barely two years after the SA National Defence Force was forced to pay over R500m to more than 700 officers who were suspended in 2009, it again faces a huge bill.
The SANDF has now paid more than R17m to 31 of its suspended officers and civilian staff members on suspension from 2007 to April 2018.
In the latest round two generals and a colonel, who were suspended on December 17 2017 on allegations of corruption, have between them earned more than R1.2m.
Another 23 officers, among them administrative clerks in Pretoria, were suspended between 2016 and this year.
One officer, who has been sitting at home for more than 11 years, has so far earned R2.2m. Another, who has been at home for eight years, has earned more than R1.4m. A warrant officer, who has been off work for six years, has earned R2.252m.
The Defence department failed to respond to questions about why the personnel have been suspended for so long.
A SANDF source in Pretoria said Defence Minister Nosiviwe-Mapisa Nqakula was asked by parliament to resolve the cases to save state money, but the department has failed to respond.
The minister appeared before the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans on June 14 2018 to answer questions on a number of issues, including the cost of the suspensions. Defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini, despite repeated requests for comment, did not address reasons for the suspensions, or what the minister was doing about it.
Some of the other suspended officers who are currently at home on full pay include:
An officer suspended on May 21 2007 has so far earned R2,073,621;
A sergeant suspended on June 17 2011 has earned R1,707,027;
An officer suspended on December 28 2009 has earned R1,478,520;
A sergeant suspended on June 17 2011 has earned R1,741,152;
An officer suspended in February 2011 has earned R1,319,577;
A lieutenant-colonel suspended on December 9 2015 has earned R1,319,715 and;
A lieutenant-colonel suspended on December 9 2015 has earned R1,293,848.
Others who are suspended include civilians such as a driver, administrative clerks and accountants.
Mapisa-Nqakula acknowledged this to the committee. “An estimated total amount of R17,169,717 has been paid to members and employees who are placed on leave on instruction (from chief of the SANDF).”
The minister said there are currently 23 SANDF members on leave on instruction of the SANDF chief, and eight Public Service Act personnel or civilians on leave on instruction of the Secretary for Defence.
In 2016, the SANDF paid more than R500m to more than 700 officers who were suspended in 2009 after they marched to the Union Buildings, clashing with police and damaging property. The officers were protesting for better salaries and working conditions.
But the SA National Defence Union’s national secretary, Pikkie Greeff, blamed this on bad management. “Our members were suspended with full benefits in 2009 and they sat at home for years and more than R500m was paid to them. These delays are caused by bad management. SANDF has prosecuting staff, judges and fully functioning courts. Why they can’t speed up these cases?” asked Greeff.
The Democratic Alliance’s shadow minister on Defence and Military Veterans, Sarel Marais, said: “The amount of money spent on suspended members is alarming. The SANDF should speed up the cases and bring the suspended back to the system; they must be back on the work force.
“The Military Discipline Bill has been signed by parliament and is expected to be sent to their committee to be discussed it. Without this bill there will always be loopholes,” he said.
Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesperson, Joy Peters, could not be reached for comment.