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SACC calls for SANDF talks

2009-09-25 20:05

Johannesburg - The SA Council of Churches (SACC) on Friday urged the defence ministry to reconsider its move to dismiss 1 300 soldiers who embarked on violent protests in August.

"We urge the ministry to explore alternative measures at least prior to arriving at the question of dismissal.

"More importantly, we urge the ministry to engage the unions in a search for lasting solutions," the SACC's Tinyiko Maluleke said in a statement.

Maluleke also called for dialogue between the feuding parties saying both need to establish opportunities for talks, outside the legal wrangle currently underway.

"In this way they may begin to address some of the systematic and long term issues".

Appealing to Parliament

The SA National Defence Union (Sandu) took Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the chief of the SA National Defence Force to court to stop its members from being dismissed and to declare the procedure adopted in dismissal notices served on them unconstitutional.

Soldiers were issued dismissal letters after they went on a rampage at the Union Buildings in August over a wage dispute.

Several cars were vandalised and petrol bombed.

Maluleke said the SACC forwarded a written submission to Sisulu, condemning the violence on August 26, but raising its concerns about the seeming breakdown of communication between the leadership of the unions and the ministry.

"We also appeal to Parliament to reopen the debate regarding the unionisation of the defence forces and their rights to engage in strike action," Maluleke said.