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South Africa’s first Military Ombudsman sworn-in

16 May 2012
By Cpl Ally Rakoma
Photos by S Sgt Lebogang Tlhaole

On 14 May 2012, Lt Gen Temba Matanzima was sworn in as South Africa’s first military ombudsman at the Thaba Tshwane Sports Hall in Pretoria. The purpose of the military ombudsman is to safeguard the rights of all members of the SANDF and military veterans, allowing individuals to raise their complaints or concerns when they have been treated improperly or unfairly.

As an ombudsman, Lt Gen Matanzima will independently investigate complaints lodged in writing regarding conditions of service. Very importantly, the ombudsman may refuse to investigate a complaint if the investigation is likely to undermine the channels of command.

The Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, said her office had made a significant contribution to the drafting of the Ombud Bill before it was approved. The Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, said that the Ombudsman could address or take actions on his own initiative in any matter that come to his attention. He said that he would not be investigating matters raised in the media or on other platforms.

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu proudly said that the launch of the Military Ombudsman’s Office was a remarkable event for the Defence Force. She mentioned that SANDF had changed substantially and today our soldiers have a greater sense of their right to recourse through grievance procedures.

“The military ombud is a soldier’s appeal office in terms of internal military grievance procedures. It is an essential ingredient in the pursuit of a systematic approach to a democratic rights-based military culture,” she said.

In his acceptance speech, Lt Gen Matanzima pledged that complaints raised within the SANDF would be investigated impartially without fear, favour or prejudice.

Service Chiefs and Senior Officers of the SANDF came to wish Lt Gen Temba Matanzima well after being sworn in as South Africa’s first military Ombudsman Arrival of the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu (front right) and the Chief of the SANDF, Gen Solly Shoke (left). In the background, Mr Siphiwe Dlamini, the Head of Communication accompanying Judge Francis Legodi of the High Court in Pretoria to the podium. Esteemed dignitaries and members of the Royal Family came to witness as a son of the soil took the oath and solemn undertaking as South Africa’s first Military Ombudsman. Fltr: The Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, Lt Gen Temba Matanzima and Justice Francis Legodi before the swearing-in ceremony.
Judge Francis Legodi (right) administers the Oath of Office to Lt Gen Temba Matanzima as South Africa’s Military Ombudsman. Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela highlighting key tasks delegated to the Office of the Military Ombudsman. The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, addressing dignitaries and guests at the swearing-in ceremony. The Chief of the SA Navy, V Adm Johannes Mudimu, paying tribute to Lt Gen Temba Matanzima on behalf of the Chief of the SANDF, Gen Solly Shoke and all members of the SANDF at the swearing-in ceremony.