Soldiers go dirty at Matubatuba base

2012-10-10 00:00

A WATER supply problem has over the past week forced 296 soldiers of both sexes to live in filthy conditions while being prosecuted for taking part in an illegal march to the Union Building two years ago.

The investigation is being held over the next three weeks at 121 SA Infantry battalion in Matubatuba, KZN.

The soldiers are being prosecuted for allegedly taking part in an illegal march at the Union Building in 2009. The police shot on them and at least one vehicle was set alight.

The soldiers were the only ones from more than 1 400 soldiers — who had all been suspended — to heed a call from the army last month to return to their units.

Advocate Pikkie Greeff of the SA National Defence Force Union yesterday said after the army had thanked the 296 soldiers at the start of proceedings for returning to their units, they were told they now face prosecution on several charges, including mutiny and disorderly conduct.

Proceedings then continued on a sour note, all because of a water supply problem at the base, said Greeff.

The 10 chemical toilets which had been supplied for almost 300 soldiers were overflowing within three days. Water had to be transported to the base by truck, and for six days the soldiers could not shower or wash their clothes.

The female soldiers were forced to share the squalid ablutions with the men.

Greeff said the soldiers were for all practical purposes “being held captive” for the duration of the investigation, as they are not allowed to leave the base.

“The least the army could do was to ensure that the awfully dirty facilities met basic acceptable norms for human use.”

He said some of the soldiers were complaining of nausea and diarrhoea, but they were ordered not to report to the sickbay, but attend the proceedings, said Greeff.

He said the army was also threatening the remaining soldiers with prosecution if they did not return to their units, despite the fact that those who did return, were being prosecuted regardless.

Army liaison have not responded to the allegations made by the union, despite written requests.

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