Mar 2015

Military Ombud: A helping hand for soldiers

Written by Ursula Graaff
Soldiers who are unhappy about their working conditions have a place to go to lodge their complaints.

The Military Ombudsman Office, chaired by retired Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima, was launched in 2012 and has since solved many cases that have been brought to their attention.

The role of the office is to investigate complaints and serve as a neutral third party on matters related to the Department of Defence and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), acting independently of the chain of command and managers.

“It’s an institution where members of the defence force can lodge their complaints and conditions of service. We deal with their complaints to their satisfaction,” Lieutenant General Matanzima said.

In the 2012/13 financial year, the Military Ombudsman received 306 complaints, 104 of which have been dealt with. In 2013 they received 290 complaints and dealt with 240 of them. Last year 139 of 171 cases were dealt with. Complaints that are not dealt with in the year a soldier lodged a complaint get carried over to the following year.

Finalising a case takes about 90 days, but if it does take longer, members are informed about the delay.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is a written expression of dissatisfaction by a member or former member about his/her conditions of service and members of the public about the official conduct of a member of the SANDF.

Who can lodge a complaint?

• A member of the SANDF regarding his/her conditions of service.
• A former member of the SANDF regarding his/her conditions of service.
• A person acting on behalf of a member.
• A member of the public regarding the official conduct of a member of the SANDF.

What kind of complaint can you lodge?

• Conditions of service for members and former members of the SANDF.
• Official conduct of a member of the SANDF by the public.

Serving members should first try and resolve their dissatisfaction with the SANDF through the Individual Grievances process as prescribed in the 2010 Individual Grievances Regulations.

Steps to follow when lodging a complaint:

• The complainant completes a form.
• Intake officers record the complaint.
• The case is then analysed to determine its relevance to be handled by the Military Ombudsman.
• The case then goes to the Director of intake and analysis.
• The case then goes to the investigation office to be investigated.
• If the complaint concerns the Chief of the SANDF, they are informed to determine the nature of the case.
• Then they investigate the issue further.

Those with complaints can phone, fax or walk into the office of the Military Ombudsman.

Information required on the complaint form

It is important to provide the Military Ombudsman with as much factual detail as possible in support of the complaint. Answer the questions who, what, when how, where and what happened thereafter.

Depending on the complaint, evidence may include copies of photographs, documentation, sworn statements of witnesses, copies of official documents given to the complainant by the Department of Defence and any other relevant information that may assist the Military Ombudsman in conducting an investigation.

For more information call the Military Ombudsman Office on 012 661 2710. (Additional information sourced from

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