No way out of sacking notices

2009-09-02 22:07

Cape Town - There was no possibility of a change of heart on the dismissal notices that have been sent out to 1 300 soldiers, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Wednesday.

The notices of "provisional dismissal" were issued to soldiers involved in last week's violent protest at the Union Buildings.

Sisulu told a media conference in Cape Town that the notices were canvassed with the full Cabinet "and agreed to by the highest level in our executive".

"You are asking, is there any possibility that we might rescind the decision? No." she said.

"Just to emphasise: every step we took was deliberate, every step we took was well-considered.

"There is nothing that we have done as a knee-jerk reaction to anything. We have spent a long time on this matter."

No current threat to state security

The notices allow recipients ten days to give reasons why the dismissals should not be final.

Sisulu's military adviser Maomela Motau said there was no threat to the security of the state at the moment.

However the protesters' conduct did threaten the reputation and integrity of the defence force, Motau said.

"You will not like to have people who have got access and are in control of your most dangerous weapons to actually be the type of people we have seen at the Union Buildings," he said.

Sisulu's legal adviser Paul Ngobeni rejected suggestions that the dismissal letters were irregular.

The defence force had a common law right to summarily dismiss employees who engaged in acts inconsistent with their duties as soldiers.

Met with churches group

The ministry team were speaking after meeting a six-person delegation from the SA Council of Churches, at the SACC's request.

Sisulu said the meeting had been fruitful, and the delegation had prayed for the ministry representatives.

"We are glad to have interacted with them, because we are so much more enlightened about their life," she said.

SACC president Tinyiko Maluleke told a separate media conference that the SACC would now make a submission urging the minister to consider "mitigating circumstances and issues" before finalising the dismissals.

Always resorting to protest

He said one of the SACC's fundamental concerns was that there appeared to be a growing culture in South Africa in which employers and employees knew no language other than that of protest, which often led to violence.

"We suspect there are systemic problems in the nature of relations between employers and employees that need to be addressed.

"We suspect that there could be systemic problems also within the SA Defence Force, problems around communication, problems of trust and mistrust... problems that have simply been around for too long without being attended to ."