Fired soldiers head to court
Johannesburg - The SA National Defence Union (Sandu) intends asking the high court to set aside the dismissal of 1 300 soldiers, its lawyers said on Thursday.
It would do so if it was not furnished with the legal grounds on which the dismissals were based, according to a letter sent by attorneys Griesel Breytenbach to Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
"In the event that we do not receive the regulations requested, disproving our position, it is our instructions to approach the high court on an urgent basis to set aside the process set out in your letter, without any further notice," the attorneys said.
Sisulu on Wednesday said there was no possibility of a change of heart on the dismissal notices issued to the soldiers.
The notices of "provisional dismissal" were sent to soldiers involved in last week's violent protest at the Union Buildings. They allowed recipients 10 days to give reasons why their dismissals should not be made final.
Legally flawed process
According to the letter sent to Sisulu, expecting SA National Defence Force members to prove their innocence was "not due process and therefore legally flawed".
Sandu was also set to appeal an eleventh hour court application which saw a planned protest over poor pay and working conditions in Pretoria last Wednesday banned and the permission granted by the metro police cancelled.
Shortly after the court's ruling a group of people thought to be soldiers scaled a fence at the Union Buildings and damaged several cars. Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at them.
Union claims no protest
Sandu charged, via its attorneys, that its members did not take part in an illegal protest, claiming there was no protest.
According to the letter, after the court application, it was agreed between Sandu and police that SANDF members already gathered in the city to protest should be moved to a venue determined by the metro police.
The venue was identified where Sandu leadership could address its members on the outcome and implications of the case.
Sandu doing own probe
"This movement of participants is not and can not be construed as a protest march.
Doing so would imply that both the metro police and the SA Police Service were in fact aiding unlawful conduct ('illegal' protest march) which is, with respect, preposterous," the lawyers said in their letter.
Griesel Breytenbach added they had been instructed not to deal with "unfortunate incidents" of violence, saying the union did not condone or encourage violence.
"In this regard Sandu is in the process of launching its own investigation and Sandu shall act against any of its members that are found to have been involved in any criminal conduct."