/ 2 September 2009

Union wants defence minister arrested

The South Africa Security Forces Union (Sasfu) on Wednesday called for Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to be arrested for violating a high court order.

The minister was in breach of an order which ruled that the Defence Department’s HIV/Aids policy discriminated against HIV-positive soldiers, Sasfu deputy president Charles Jacobs told journalists in Pretoria.

”In terms of that policy, HIV-positive soldiers cannot be promoted or deployed outside the country.”

He said the court had ruled the department must review its HIV/Aids policy and present a new one within six months.

”The six months lapsed on November 16 last year. We are currently six months after the stipulated day.”

He said they expected that by Thursday afternoon ”legal processes” would be under way to correct this.

The union also wanted the department to reinstate all soldiers dismissed for protesting illegally at the Union Buildings last Wednesday, which ended in chaos, with immediate effect.

”We had a meeting with the department last night [Tuesday] where we presented our case.”

The South African Council of Churches had also stepped in and was trying to help resolve the dispute.

The defence force said it was issuing up to 2 000 letters of dismissal to those it believed had taken part.

Jacobs said it was unfair to dismiss those soldiers on leave on the day they marched to the Union Buildings in protest against low salaries and poor working conditions.

Jacobs also found it strange that only low-ranking soldiers had been dismissed.

”There are senior officers who were on leave, why are they not dismissed?”

He claimed union leaders were prevented from speaking to their members prior to the march called by another union, the South African National Defence Union (Sandu).

”Some of our members, including non-union members took part in that march … we wanted to give direction [to our members] but we were not allowed …”

Should the minister fail to reinstate the soldiers ”rolling mass action” would follow. Jacobs said those who called for the security cluster to be de-unionised should take their case to the Constitutional Court. — Sapa