And the first Nkandla victim is ...

2014-11-20 09:08

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Lieutenant-General Vejay Ramlakan, former South African National Defence Force surgeon-general and one of the alleged planners of the Nkandla project, has become the first victim of the scheme.

Defence force chief General Solly Shoke informed Ramlakan in writing that the defence force no longer needed him, and he should supply reasons why he should not take an early pension.

The step comes after the defence force’s efforts since January to complete a disciplinary inquiry into alleged offences by members involved with expensive renovations at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

Defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said on enquiry that it was impossible to hold a proper investigation and arrive at recommendations, in part because Ramlakan refused to appear.

Army chief Lieutenant-General Vusi Masondo chaired the inquiry. Dlamini said he called it quits after months of fruitless effort.

“He will compile a report setting out the problems experienced in obtaining any testimony. This will be submitted to Shoke and the defence minister [Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula],” he said.

Defence was the first department that started disciplinary procedures related to Nkandla.

It is understood that it was argued before any evidence was presented that no one stopped Ramlakan or asked what he was doing at Nkandla.

The board also wanted to determine what financial authority was employed to install military facilities at Nkandla, including a clinic, accommodation and a helipad.

It was alleged that Ramlakan proceeded without any proper delegated authority.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in her report that she could find no reason for the military clinic, helipad or security personnel quarters within the security perimeter at the president’s private estate rather than nearer the village.

Ramlakan responded that the George airport had been built near former president PW Botha’s Wilderness retirement home, to which Madonsela replied that the airport was 23km from Botha’s home.

Madonsela found serious deficiencies in defence department policy on security arrangement at government leaders’ homes.

Written requests for comment to Ramlakan’s office over the past week were not answered. He has been out of the office for some time, apparently on stress leave.

- Beeld

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