Sun Dec 04 14:17:57 CAT 2016

‘Would Fidel have been proud?’ – Union attacks SANDF after army bases run out of food

Aphiwe Deklerk | 2016-11-30 13:23:13.0
A photograph of Cuba's former President Fidel Castro is seen during a tribute ceremony, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in La Paz, Bolivia.
A photograph of Cuba's former President Fidel Castro is seen during a tribute ceremony, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in La Paz, Bolivia.
Image by: DAVID MERCADO / REUTERS

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has narrowly avoided a potentially embarrassing court case by delivering rations at the 11th hour to three army bases where soldiers had no food.

The South African National Defence Union (Sandu) had given the military until Wednesday to recant on instructions to send soldiers home from the bases at Zeerust‚ Middleburg and Mafikeng because they had run out of food.

But a last-minute meeting between the two parties has apparently led to the SANDF backtracking on its plans and sending food instead to the affected bases.

Sandu secretary Pikkie Greeff posted a copy of a letter of demand on his Twitter page on Tuesday‚ demanding the SANDF refrain from sending affected soldiers home.

The letter was sent to Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula‚ SANDF chief General Solly Shoke‚ Secretary of Defence Sam Gulube and commanders at the affected bases.

When contacted on Wednesday morning‚ Greeff said the union’s lawyers were in negotiations with the military to resolve the matter‚ failing which they would go to court.

But‚ he later tweeted that “the SANDF has just capitulate(d). Food has now been delivered to the affected bases. Soldiers are eating. Thanks Sandu. Amazing work!”

In the letter of demand‚ the union said that the SANDF was obliged to provide the affected members with “sufficient rations”.

“Various SANDF members affected by this instruction are unable to comply as they do not have the financial means to travel long distance to their homes at this time of the month and are now stuck in their respective bases‚ without rations‚” read the letter.

Greeff could not say how many soldiers were affected but he said the number would “run to hundreds”.

He was sharply critical of government on Twitter‚ saying: “While our President Zuma is on his way to attend Castro’s funeral‚ his soldiers are going hungry. Would Fidel have been proud?” he asked.

In another tweet‚ he criticised SANDF leadership‚ asking what kind of management “can’t even see to it that their soldiers are properly stocked with food”.

“Not one of you Castro-praising idealists now deliver a word on the fact that your ANC leaves our soldiers without food‚” he said.

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