SANDF acted unfairly - SCA

Bloemfontein - The SANDF did not act fairly in taking disciplinary action against soldiers who took part in an illegal march, the Supreme Court of Appeal held on Thursday.

The court delivered judgment in an appeal by the defence department over a decision that its disciplining of the soldiers did not meet the requirements of justice and fairness.

The soldiers are members of the SA National Defence Union. They were accused of disobeying a command to return to base after participating in an illegal march to the Union Buildings in 2009.

The appeal involves notices to the soldiers by the department, including media statements, published in two newspapers on 14 and 15 November 2012.

On Thursday, a full Bench of the SCA dismissed the appeal by the defence minister, the secretary for defence, and the chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

The court said an employee had to be afforded adequate opportunity to respond and obtain help, such as from a trade union.

The facts of the case indicated the soldiers involved did not have enough time to obtain advice and help from their trade union, of whose existence the SANDF was well aware.