Minister’s task team to probe sexual harassment in military_1

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says it is necessary to establish an external task team that will assist victims of sexual harassment in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to open up without feeling intimidated. The minister is concerned about the high number of incidents that are not reported, given the nature of the military command and control structure. Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking at the launch of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) in Pretoria yesterday. The task team was established after the United Nations (UN) threatened the expulsion of SA peacekeeping troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo...
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says it is necessary to establish an external task team that will assist victims of sexual harassment in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to open up without feeling intimidated.

The minister is concerned about the high number of incidents that are not reported, given the nature of the military command and control structure.

Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking at the launch of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) in Pretoria yesterday. The task team was established after the United Nations (UN) threatened the expulsion of SA peacekeeping troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when allegations emerged that soldiers sexually abused local women there.

In November, the Mail & Guardian reported that there were at least 41 sexual assault-related cases that have been reported in just the past 18 months.

“I think that the focus we have had on [sexual exploitation and abuse] in the deployment areas, particularly the DRC, has made us have a blind spot of this scourge internally,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

The task team has been formed to investigate about 41 cases of sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and sexual offences cases in the SANDF. A number of cases of sexual favours and harassment have been reported.

“This is not only against the consistent calls I have made about sexual exploitation and abuse in the deployment areas, but the realisation that the problem is just as prevalent within the SANDF inside the country in our bases and units,” she said.

She assigned Commission on Gender Equality deputy chairperson Thoko Mpumlwana, correctional services manager Britta Rotmann, retired Maj-Gen Daphne Nodola and former Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities chairperson Mongezi Guma to lead the team.

Mapisa-Nqakula said one of the first tasks must be the establishment of a hotline.

The MTT has been mandated to:

Determine if there are any factors hindering members to report incidents of sexual harassment cases against their fellow SANDF members in deployment areas outside SA;
Determine whether there have been reported cases which have not been investigated;
Determine what processes should be put place to alleviate under-reporting of the non-investigation of reported matters: and
To investigate and finalise cases dating back to 2014.


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