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To: The National Executive of Sandu

Down with corruption in Sandu- forward to soldiers' rights

Down with corruption in Sandu- forward to soldiers' rights

We the soldiers of Sandu are calling on the National Executive of Sandu to investigate the irregularities happening at Sandu, Guardian Soldier Services Services, Uniguard and Constantia Insurance Company.

The democratic thing to do would be to remove Guardian Soldier Services, Uniguard and Constantia Insurance Company from any work with Sandu; all staff who are directors of Guardian Soldier Services should be suspended. Cornelius van Niekerk and Greeff should immediately be removed from handling the finances. There should an emergency national Executive meeting called to appoint a new interim leadership and to launch disciplinary action against the implicated staff. All appropriate legal avenues should be used against those implicated in alleged corruption. This should be followed up with a special National Congress to put the union on a democratic footing.

The union should prioritise taking up the case of the 1000 soldiers who are still being victimised by the state. There must be an independent forensic investigation into the financial books since 2009.
The heads of the army are being spiteful against the 1000 as their undemocratic conduct was being challenged. The structure of Sandu should be democratised so that no leader can occupy 2 positions at the same time nor can they stay on for a long period in the same position. There needs to be concerned committees of soldiers set up in every base, with the right of instant recall of leadership and the salary of staff should not be more than an average skilled worker or a junior officer. There should be a listening campaign nationally on all soldiers grievances and a campaigns conference called to work out a campaign to champion soldiers’ rights. There should be active seeking of unity between Sandu and Sasfu and non-aligned soldiers. The union should seek observor or associate status with SAFTU (SA Federation of trade unions). There should be a media campaign by the structures to explain to the community what the challenges are that soldiers still face.

Down with the corrupt leaders of Sandu
Forward to a democratic Sandu
Forward to unity among rank and file soldiers
Forward to unity between soldiers and the communities.

Why is this important?

The Constitution of South Africa allows for soldiers to be unionised and also protects our right to protest. Many soldiers joined SANDU ( SA National Defence Force Union) and SASFU (SA Security Forces Union). Soldiers had many challenges in 2009:

* Low pay
* Some were living in shacks
* Many barracks were in a state of disrepair
* lack of transparency around training courses and promotions
* victimization of soldier representatives
* lack of access and basic union rights for our unions

Both Sandu and Sasfu tried their best to raise soldiers’ complaints through the appropriate channels, meticulously complying with the letter of the law. However, the management was arrogant and disregarded soldiers’ concerns.

Eventually, Sandu decided to organise a peaceful march to the Union buildings to highlight soldiers’ concerns. Sandu applied for permission to march and organised that off-duty soldiers and those who got leave, should attend. The march was to be peaceful and organisers were very careful that the protestors should attend the march unarmed and tried every effort to get leave for participants. It was the management of the SANDF that intervened at the last moment to interdict the march, after permission had been granted by the City authorities. It was impossible to reach all soldiers before the march commenced to inform them of the interdict that was granted late on the night before the march. The organisers tried their best to be early at the assembly point of the march in the morning, to inform the soldiers about the interdict and to have an orderly dispersal. Unfortunately the military police and the police adopted a hostile approach to the gathering soldiers and were highly provocative. The gathered soldiers, numbering more than 3000, were brutally dispersed. It seems that some provocateurs may have been planted to instigate violence but all the soldiers organised by Sandu as well as the Sasfu members who attended were peaceful. This was the 26th August 2009.

In the days that followed more than 1000 soldiers were first suspended then dismissed. The union went back and forth to court and secured a reinstatement of the soldiers. However the management of the SANDF was stubborn and at first refused to comply, then they reinstated but then suspended the soldiers. Then they tried to hold disciplinary hearings for the soldiers. All this took years. The soldiers were finally back at work in July 2016.

Since being back at work, many have suffered by being sidelined for training and promotion. Many still carry the emotional scars of the years of suffering under suspension. They had missed out on years of further training and promotion. The affected soldiers had asked Sandu to take up their grievances once again. However this time, the leadership has delayed in taking up their case. Some soldiers have even hired private lawyers to take up their case to get justice. The soldiers who have hired a private lawyer have a case number and the case is going ahead. However those hundreds who still want the union to take up the case do not even have a case number nor has the matter progressed at all.

Sandu has hired a private company, Guardian Soldier Services, that allocates lawyers to take up cases of soldiers. However it has now emerged that a former founder of the union and current staff of the union are directors of this company. This means most are drawing 2 salaries from the hardship and cases of the soldiers. This is corruption.

The directors of Guardian Soldier Services are as follows:

Cornelius van Niekerk (founder of Sandu)
Johannes George Greeff (secretary of Sandu)
Elmarie Connie Slade (staff member of Sandu)
Vincent de Villiers (staff member of Sandu)
Lyndon Eric Fredericks (staff member of Sandu)

Cornelius van Niekerk is also the sole director of a company called WestSide Trading 136 which trades as Uniguard. Uniguard sells insurance to Sandu.

It was also discovered that correspondence has been written to Sandu in September 2018 by the Dept of Defence indicating that they should have submitted their audited statements by the 31st March. It appears the union failed to submit the statement in time.

A former financial officer of Sandu (Stephen Johannes de Wet) has made an affidavit where he reveals the following:

From October 2015 he was removed from his post and the founder of Sandu, Cornelius van Niekerk, has been acting as financial officer ever since.
Cornelius van Niekerk has signing powers and access to all of Sandu funds, depite him being director of both Uniguard and Guardian Soldier Services that Sandu has a relation with.
Half of all subscriptions of Sandu is paid to Constantia Insurance Company. Constantia Insurance then pays Sandu, Uniguard and Guardian Soldier Services.
Insurance for soldiers is only 11,125% of subcriptions
Uniguard (where Cornelius van Niekerk is sole director) receives 8,75% of all subcriptions
Guardian Soldier Services receive 27,5% of all subscriptions but they cannot even take up the cases of the 1000 soldiers placed on Special leave and who have been victimised. Both Greeff and van Niekerk are directors of Guardian Soldier Services.
Between 2009 and 2011 it is alleged that R 3 235 018 was paid to Constantia Insurance company and the companies of Greeff and van Niekerk. This was allegedly in part through the Constantia Insurance getting its money as if the membership of Sandu was 17 000 whereas it was verified at 12 000. They thus over-deducted. Van Niekerk was thus paying himself and Greeff extra from an already high payment.

Wage inequality in Sandu
Some union organizers of Sandu receive R6000 a month salary, while the Secretary of Sandu receives over R100 000 per month. This is besides what the Secretary receives as a director of Guardian Soldier Services! This is conflict of interest and highly irregular.

How it will be delivered

In person and via a press conference

Updates

2019-09-22 16:24:51 +0200

10 signatures reached