Govt fights court ruling on soldier dismissals

A request for leave to appeal an order in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that stops more than 1 000 soldiers from being fired was lodged on Wednesday, the Department of Defence said.

“The Department of Defence has lodged a request for leave to appeal the December 1 2010 judgement by Justice [Cynthia] Pretorius of the North Gauteng High court,” spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said,

“… Simultaneously [the department] has brought an application under Rule 42 of the Uniform Rules requesting that the court rescind or vary ‘an order or judgement in which there is an ambiguity, or a patent error or omission, but only to the extent of such ambiguity, error or omission’.”

He said the department was confident that the high court or the appellate courts would “vindicate its positions in regard to the very important issues of national security and the constitutional obligation to ensure that the defence force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force.

“This is our non-delegable duty and we intend to carry it out to the fullest extent.

“We will not countenance a repetition of the disgraceful conduct of the few soldiers who behaved contrary to the code of conduct of the South African National Defence Force. Instilling strict discipline and weeding out acts of ill-discipline from the ranks of our military is a task that must be done.”

Pretorius on December 1 granted an order declaring the termination of the soldiers’ employment unlawful and unconstitutional.

This follows an illegal march in August last year by soldiers wanting to hand a memorandum to the Presidency. The march got out of hand when some of the soldiers apparently stormed the Union Buildings and police opened fire on the marchers. — Sapa

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