Draft Defence Bill: discussion; Tempe Massacre: briefing

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Defence and Military Veterans

21 September 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

21 September 1999

Draft Defence Bill

The committee continued its discussion of the draft Defence Bill, specifically the Auxiliary Services sections in Chapter 4 and Sections 26-28 of Chapter 5. Mr Lekota then arrived to brief the committee on events at Tempe military base. He emphasised the tragic nature of the events and called on the media to take greater care in the accuracy of their stories.

Draft Defence Bill
Admiral Retief was called upon by Ms Modise, Portfolio Committee Chairperson, take the committee through the draft bill. His delegation included Mr Nathan, General Barlow, Mr Rathebe and Lieutenant Commander Wardley.

Chapter 4: Section 22 - 25
The admiral continued to explain the nature of the auxiliary services as requested in the previous meeting. The auxiliary services were established in the early 1900s while South Africa was still a Union. Until 1976 three different auxiliary services existed owing to the policy of racial segregation. Under the current Defence Act these three were disbanded and integrated into one auxiliary service. This was split into two parts. One constituted auxiliaries of a combatant nature and the other non-combatants. An investigation conducted in 1993 proposed that both parts be integrated into the permanent forces. This was done, except for 181 persons who elected not to be integrated into the permanent force. The motivation behind this is unclear.

In 1995 a Service Corp was established. The numbers in the corp fluctuate depending on the number of people currently in training.

The admiral asked if there were any questions concerning the auxiliary services.

Mr Morwamoche (ANC) felt that those people that elected to remain in the auxiliary service should not determine policy. Policy should emanate out of the government’s commitment to a process of transformation.

The Admiral responded that the Service Corp was established to provide an entry point for the underprivileged or uneducated into the Defence Force.

Mr Ngculu (ANC) suggested that the auxiliary services need to be defined.

General Viljoen (FF) advanced that the auxiliary services should be retained to provide employment for those not able to be integrated into the defence force because of a lack of education.

Ms Modise (ANC) posed the question to Admiral Retief whether the auxiliary services were necessary to the Defence Force.

The Admiral responded that this was not the case. He said that mechanisms whereby auxiliary services could be called up in time of national emergency, should, however, be retained.

Mr Makwetla (ANC) objected saying that the auxiliary services were part of a racially discriminatory past and have no future in the new South Africa.

Mr Viljoen (FF) reinforced his concern about the employment opportunity that the auxiliary services provide.

Ms Modise (ANC) opposed this saying that there was no educational requirement for the Defence Force. Her colleague strongly opposed Mr Viljoen’s stance feeling that people should be empowered and not dumped into auxiliary services.

Ms Modise decided that it was unnecessary to continue the discussion and urged the Admiral to proceed.

Chapter 5: Employment and Use of the Defence Force
Section 26
Mr Schalkwyk (DP) enquired about the definition of "international obligation" in terms of Section 26.

Mr Nathan responded that "international obligation " had been defined in 26(1)(c). It was defined as broadly as possible to make allowance for those tasks that the Defence Force may engage in internationally for reasons other than national defence.

General Viljoen (FF) expressed concern about the lack of distinction between the primary and secondary functions of the Defence Force. He also suggested that in Section 26 the second (a) and (b) should be swopped as it technically made better sense. In terms of 4 (c) the number of people involved, Parliament should also be informed of battalions and formations as well as the number of people deployed.

There was general agreement that (5) should read "…the President must provide the information required in the subsection to the Joint Standing Committee of Parliament on Defence " and not "…the President must provide the information required in the subsection to the Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee of Parliament on Defence".

Mr Ngculu (ANC) raised a concern about (9)(a) giving power to the Secretary of Defence to authorise employment of the Defence Forces if the Minister cannot be contacted in time.

After some debate it was decided that the Chief of Defence would assume those powers if necessary and not the Secretary.

Ms Modise stated that it would be extremely unlikely that the Minister would be uncontactable and not have delegated his/her powers to the Deputy Minister or another Cabinet Minister in his/her absence.

Mr Selfe (DP) pointed out a technical correction in that the sub-section referred to in (6)(a) is sub-section (2) and not (3).

Section 28
Admiral Retief noted that Section 28 is concerned with conferring police powers on military personnel when they are deployed in co-operation with the SAPS. This was not provided for in the previous Act.

Mr Mabeta (UDM) voiced his concern about giving police powers to military personnel who were trained differently to the police. He was also unsure as to exactly how the merging of command structures was to work. Mr Selfe (DP) echoed Mr Mabeta’s concerns.

Admiral Retief referred the members to Section 27, which spells out the issue of command control. Police would exercise control, for example in asking SANDF to set up a roadblock and specifying when and where. After that SANDF would operate within its own command structure. Police powers would be conferred upon the SANDF personnel for as short a time as possible and under as much police control as possible. The admiral added that the police are still considering Section 28 and haven not given feedback yet.

Mr Ndlovu (IFP) asked whether there would be police present in instances where the SANDF was mobilised in support of the SAPS.

Admiral Retief answered that this may or may not be the case depending on the circumstances.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Ms Modise, asked that Mr Retief and his team revise the Section and to bring a new proposal.

Mr Schalkwyk (DP) asked whether there were provisions for the SANDF to act in the capacity of coast guards.

The Admiral responded in the negative.

Tempe Massacre
The Defence Minister, Mr M Lekota, briefed the committee on occurrences at Tempe military base last week and recent developments:

Sometime between 8:30 and 9:00am on 16 September 1999 Sibusiso Madubela approached the office of the Commanding Officer in an attempt to make an appointment with him. The Acting Officer advised Madubela that the Commanding Officer was in Pretoria at the time. The Acting Officer in Command made an appointment for Madubela with the Commanding Officer for the following Monday and inquired as to whether he could be of assistance in the Commanding Officer’s absence. Madubela indicated that he was satisfied with waiting until the return of the Commanding Officer. Madubela then proceeded to obtain his weapon and ammunition and returned to the administrative buildings. He then opened fire moving from office to office killing and wounding personnel.
He was in turn shot by one of the wounded and died.

Mr Lekota made special mention of the fact that Madubela had aimed at some white people but not pulled the trigger. He said that this refuted the allegation that the killings were racially motivated. The number of fatalities at this point is 8 including Madubela. 2 are seriously wounded and 3 are wounded but not in a critical condition.

Mr Lekota continued, mentioning that he had flown to Tempe to address the troops and to encourage them to return to their posts. He also spoke out strongly against those who would seek to sow division in the ranks by stirring up racial tension.

Mr Lekota mentioned that there were some unfortunate incidences in Tempe’s history. A few years ago two members of the base were hijacked and killed. Two fellow base members were arrested for the killings. There have also been allegations in the Sunday World of large-scale theft of arms. These allegations have subsequently been found to be unsubstantiated. Mr Lekota prevailed upon the press not to report inaccuracies of this nature that affect the morale of the troops. Journalists not only have rights but must also be responsible in their reporting.

One of the important circumstances surrounding the massacre, was the death of Madubela’s father. Having received the necessary permission, Madubela returned home to attend his father’s funeral. Upon his return to the base he was informed that part of his salary was being withheld. Mr Lekota said that it was necessary to establish why his salary was withheld. He also said that the quality of the relationship between the command structure and the troops needs to be assessed. General Nyanda has appointed a board of enquiry to look at matters internal to the SANDF. Mr Lekota has established a ministerial inquiry with greater powers than the board to delve more deeply and broadly into the matter.

On the weekend following the massacres the fence around the base was cut and an attempt was made to steal two vehicles. Only one was successfully stolen. The thieves left a calling card saying that they would return, signed the AWB. On the 16 September Andrew Ford of the Boere Weerstand's Beweging had called upon members to seek retribution for the killings. Lekota said that matters like this need to be investigated as well as the extent to which similar elements had influenced the occurrences on the base.

Mr Lekota called upon members of the committee to aid the process of transformation by leaving the past behind and focussing on the future. He emphasised the value of the life of a single human and the seriousness of the events at Tempe. He said that given the circumstances of Madubela’s death and the nature of his crimes, he would not be awarded military honours at his funeral although the SANDF would bear the costs of the funeral.

Questions and Answers
An ANC member asked about time frames for the commissions of enquiry.

Mr Lekota said that the SANDF board of enquiry would be fairly limited and therefore will probably be concluded in the next few weeks.

Rev Mogoba (PAC) said that it was a pity that the funeral could not be delayed until after the enquiries had been completed. He felt that perhaps the enquiries would bring to light matters that would enable Madubela to receive his military honours at his funeral.

Mr Lekota responded that nothing could possibly justify Madubela’s actions no matter what had happened.

Mr Madasa (ACDP) suggested that the issues arising from integration of the previous military organisations into the SANDF needs to be addressed. He proposed that a forum be set up whereby members of the SANDF could air their views and concerns.

Mr Lekota agreed.

Mr Schalkwyk (DP) caused quite a stir by suggesting that perhaps APLA should give Madubela some sort of honour at the funeral.

Both Ms Modise and Mr Lekota responded emphatically that South Africa must no longer think in terms of past divisions but in terms of one united SANDF.

There was a final query as to whether there was any truth in media reports that black soldiers had boycotted the funerals of the white soldiers who were killed by Madubela.
Mr Lekota responded that this was completely inaccurate and in fact the complete opposite was the case. Black members assembled to mourn the death of their colleague and were sent away by an unnamed individual. Mr Lekota again appealed to the media to report accurately and only with substantiated evidence. He also advised the committee members to go to Tempe themselves to ascertain the exact nature of matters at hand.

Mr Mabeta (UDM) suggested that members of the committee attend the funerals of the deceased.

Ms Modise supported the suggestion and a trip was provisionally planned to Tempe next Tuesday. Ms Modise closed the meeting by advising members to continue with their questions in the snap debate in Parliament later that day.


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