PE furniture-dumping soldiers were acting on orders - defence ministry

2017-03-22 15:26
Soldiers moved furniture outside Port Elizabeth City Hall. (Kristoff Adelbert)

Soldiers moved furniture outside Port Elizabeth City Hall. (Kristoff Adelbert)

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Cape Town - The soldiers who dumped truckloads of furniture in front of the Nelson Mandela Bay City Hall in 2016 were doing so on orders from their commanding officer.

Replying to a written parliamentary question from the DA's Kobus Marais, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula admitted that the soldiers were armed.

In November soldiers armed with assault rifles apparently pointed their weapons at bystanders in front of the Port Elizabeth City Hall and rammed a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) truck into a municipal vehicle parked outside it.

Marais asked if the soldiers had specifically targeted the city hall, and whether they would be court-martialled for their actions.

"No, there was no specific site targeted. More than one family who stayed illegally was evicted. The officer commanding reported that the choice of delivering near the municipality was as requested by the lady being removed out of the military house," the defence minister said in the reply.

She said the officers were armed as the "officer commanding SA army support base Eastern Cape instructed the members to be armed as per army doctrine".

READ: Soldiers threaten public, brandish weapons in Nelson Mandela Bay

'Fingers on the trigger'

Explaining the ramming of a municipal vehicle, the defence minister said when the army's trucks were leaving, someone tried to block them by parking the vehicle in the way.

The vehicle was left unoccupied, she said in the reply published on Wednesday.

On whether any members involved in the incident could be court-martialled, Mapisa-Nqakula said the board of enquiry was currently at LEGSATO [military legal services] for legal advice.

"Once returned, actions will be taken as been advised by LEGSATO."

At the time, chief of staff in the mayor's office Kristoff Adelbert, who witnessed the incident, said some of the furniture belonged to a family whose home was located at the army base in PE.

"They refused to listen and continued offloading the furniture. They then took out assault rifles in an act of intimidation. The assault rifles were armed, the clip was in, their safety was off and fingers were on the trigger. One tap of the trigger and a bullet would have come out the barrel," he said.

WATCH:

Read more on:    sandf  |  nosiviwe mapisa-nqakula  |  port elizabeth

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