South Africa Military Ombud

By | October 24, 2017

South Africa Military Ombud

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ABOUT THE SA MILITARY OMBUD

The concept of the Military Ombud was first contemplated in the late 1990’s as: An independent, external mechanism to deal with the complaints and grievances of members and former members of the SANDF; and A place for the public to lodge complaints about the conduct of soldiers. The White Paper on Defence (May 1996) advocated for the creation of the post of Military Ombud.

As there was no Military Ombud a Senior Legal Administration Officer in the Office of the Public Protector was responsible for dealing with complaints from SANDF members. This proved to be largely ineffective. Minutes of proceedings of the Joint Standing Committee of Defence of June 1998, show a premium was placed on the urgency of establishing such an Office.

In April 2006, a Bill entitled “South African Military Ombud” was tabled and withdrawn. A Military Ombudsman Bill was introduced to the National Assembly in Jan 2011. The Military Ombud Bill as amended and in its present form was introduced in Sept 2011.

To establish an Office of the Military Ombud a project was registered with Defence Intelligence – Project MOLAMODI. A project team was appointed under the direction of Lt Gen (Ret) T. T. Matanzima (project leader) and began work during August 2011.

MISSION

To render an independent impartial and expeditious investigation and resolution process for complaints in respect of conditions of service for members and former members of the SANDF and to investigate complaints by members of the public regarding the official conduct of a member of the SANDF.

APPOINTMENT

The Office was established with the promulgation of the Military Ombud Act 4 of 2012 and the swearing in of Lt Gen (Ret) T.T. Matanzima.

ROLE OF AN OMBUDSMAN

The role of an ombudsman is to gather facts in order to understand the merits of a complaint and thereafter to consult the relevant parties to the complaint to either settle the complaint or to make a recommendation to resolve the complaint.

The Ombudsman will therefore:

  1. Establish the allegations and the issues of a complaint;
  2. Determine the laws applicable to the allegations and the issues;
  3. Analyse the allegations and issues in accordance with the laws;
  4. Make findings on the allegations and make recommendations in order to:
    • resolve the complaint;
    • provide redress where necessary to the complainant; and
    • prevent a recurrence of the problem.

An ombudsman’s investigation is not a criminal investigation nor is it meant to be an adversarial process, it is rather an administrative inquiry to ensure due process has been observed.

The Ombud does not represent the complainant, the Department of Defence or any other government authority but rather is an independent, impartial third party that conducts an investigation in a fair and objective manner to ensure an accountable and transparent government.

MANDATE

Mandate of the Office is to investigate complaints lodged in writing by-

  1. A member regarding his or her conditions of service;
  2. A former member regarding his or her conditions of service;
  3. A member of the public regarding the official conduct of a member of the Defence Force; or
  4. A person acting on behalf of a member.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF MILITARY OMBUD

The Ombud may not investigate a complaint unless the Ombud-

  • Has in writing informed every other interested party to the complaint of the receipt thereof;
  • Is satisfied that all interested parties have been provided with such particulars that will enable the parties to respond to the complaint; and
  • Has afforded all interested parties the opportunity to submit a response to the complaint.

The Ombud-

  • May summon any person to submit an affidavit or affirmed declaration or to appear before him to give evidence or produce any document that has a bearing on the matter before him;
  • May resolve any dispute by means of mediation, conciliation or negotiations or in any other expedient manner; and
  • Must promote the observance of the fundamental rights of the members of the Defence Force

The Ombud may refuse to investigate a complaint if –

a member has not first used the mechanisms available in terms of the Individual Grievance Regulations.

Unless

The complaint relates to problems inherent in the system which results in the grievance not being addressed by the SANDF.

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INDEPENDENCE

The Military Ombud aims to give members of the SANDF and the public the confidence that it is an independent and impartial “watchdog” that holds the SANDF to account.

Institutional independence is significant to the credibility of the institution as it reflects on the impartiality of the Ombud to investigate complaints without any conflict of interest or any undue influence.

As a result, to ensure its institutional and operational independence, the Office of the Military Ombud is considering registering as a PFMA Schedule 3 Entity.

REPORTING

Within 30 days after the end of each financial year, the Military Ombud is obliged to submit an annual report on the activities of the Office to the Minister, which the Minister will table in Parliament within one month of receipt thereof.

The Military Ombud must also report to the Minister as and when he is required to do so.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

The Military Ombud signed MOU’s with CSANDF and SecDef on 15 July 2014. An MOU with the Public Protector has also been finalised. A date is currently being finalised for the signing of this MOU.

Latest careers from the SA Military Ombud

Contact Information

Physical:

349 Eco Origins Block C4 Witch-Hazel Ave
Highveld, Centurion

Postal:

SA Military Ombud
Private Bag X163
0046

Telephone: 012 676 3800 or Facsimile: 012 661 2091 or Toll Free: 080 726 6283 (080 SAOMBUD)
Email: intake@milombud.org or milombud@milombud.org

Frequently asked questions

What is the Military Ombud doing about the complaints of the SANDF members who went on strike in 2009?

The Office of the Military Ombud has not to date received any complaint directly emanating from the activities of that day and therefore has not had an opportunity to look into the matter.

Why is the Minister of Defence having a final say in the Military Ombud’s’ recommendations?

The Minister is the political head of the DOD and exercises control over its functioning and therefore better placed to direct the command channel to comply with the recommendations of the Military Ombud.

How do you lodge a complaint with the Military Ombud?

 A complaint must be lodged on the prescribed Military Ombud Complaint Form. This form is obtainable from the Military Ombud website and can also be downloaded from the DOD Intranet. The form must be completed and submitted via post, fax, and e-mail or by personal delivery to the Office.

Do you accept complaints that did not go through the Individual Grievance System?

 The Ombud may refuse to investigate a complaint if a member has not first used the mechanisms available under the Individual Grievance Regulations, 2010, unless the complaint relates to problems inherent in the system which bring about an adverse result to the complainant.

Is there any possibility to have Military Ombud offices in other provinces?

 Ideally yes, in practice the decision to open provincial offices would be influenced by the extent of caseload for each Province.

What does the MOU’s with the Sec Def and the C SANDF entail?

 The MOU outlines co-operative operational framework and the necessary steps to develop suitable standard working procedures and further resolve any dispute or misunderstanding through consultation and negotiation between the signatories.

What should I do if not satisfied with the decision of the Military Ombud?

 Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Ombud may apply to the High Court for review of that decision within a period of 180 days of the decision of the Military Ombud.

How effective is the Military Ombud with regard to giving feedback to complainants?

 At all material times, the Military Ombud endeavors to keep the complainants regularly informed of all developments around their complaints. In order to increase its accessibility the complainants the Military Ombud has opened a toll free line where enquiries may be made about a complaint.The Office also accepts “walk-ins” by complainants where such is justified.

How is the Military Ombud related to other Chapter 9 Institutions as it does not seem that it is a Chapter 9 Institution?

 The Military Ombud has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with a number of Chapter 9 Institutions with the view to facilitate co-operation with those Institutions. Where a matter falls outside the jurisdiction of the Military Ombud, he may refer that matter to any Chapter 9 Institution for investigation.

Do you have any means of protecting a complainant against victimization after lodging a complaint?

 Any complainant who, on reasonable grounds, fears or suspects that he/she may be victimised subsequent to lodging the complaint must inform the Military Ombud accordingly so that a specific recommendation may be made to the Minister with regard to his/her protection.

How long does it take the Military Ombud to finalise a complaint?

 The finalisation of a complaint is influenced by a number of factors e.g. availability of information and witnesses and the complexity of the complaint itself. For this reason the finalisation may vary between 30 to 180 days depending on the factors mentioned above.

Whose interest is the Military Ombud representing as it seems he also reports to the Minister of Defence?

 The Ombud and staff members must serve independently and impartially and must perform their functions in good faith and without fear, favour, bias or prejudice, subject to the Constitution and the law. The Military Ombud does not represent the complainant or the DOD but is an independent arbiter between the parties.

Does the Military Ombud have powers to enforce recommendations?

 No. The Military Ombud makes recommendations to the Minister for implementation under the provisions of the Military Ombud Act. In law the Military Ombud has no enforcement powers.

What is the difference between the Defence Service Commission and the Military Ombud?

 The Defence Force Service Commission advises the Minister on the determination of conditions of service of members of the SANDF whereas the Military Ombud’s office ensures that the DOD adheres to those conditions of service.

What is the procedure to summon a person?

 A summons may only be issued in circumstances where the Military Ombud is not receiving co-operation from an individual. The summons shall be served by any person authorised by the Ombud by delivering it to the person named therein to his or her residence or place of employment or business so that he is in possession thereof at least fourteen days (Sundays and public
holidays excluded) before the date appointed for the appearance.

Why is it necessary to follow the individual grievance procedure if the Military Ombud can deal with the complaint, as the internal resolution of the complaint might take time due to internal obstruction of the process?

 The Military Ombud is not there to replace the channel of command within the SANDF but to provide an independent appeal mechanism for the members once they have exhausted the internal procedures. In instances where there is internal obstruction to the internal processes the member may then report such matter to the Ombud for an intervention.

Does the Military Ombud have time frames within which a complaint must be lodged?

A member or their representative must lodge a complaint within a period of 180 days from the date on which the Grievance Board made its decision regarding his or her grievance; a former member within a period of 180 days from the date on which he or she became aware of the issue that gave rise to the complaint.

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A member of the public who wishes to complain about the official conduct of a member of the Defence Force, must lodge a complaint within a period of 90 days from the date on which he or she became aware of the act or omission concerned.

 

Download Attachments

  • Military Ombud Act
    Military Ombud Act
    To provide for the establishment of an independent Office of the Military Ombud; and to provide for the appointment and functions of the Military Ombud; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
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