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Soldier and SANDF impostor charged over presidential inauguration ruse

───   09:33 Sat, 01 Jun 2019

Soldier and SANDF impostor charged over presidential inauguration ruse | News Article
President Cyril Ramaphosa

A SANDF soldier and a civilian he allegedly tried to sneak into the military's early preparation for President Cyril Ramaphosa's inauguration have been charged with threatening national security, the defence force said on Friday

Spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said the duo were caught well ahead of the inauguration on May 25.

He said the Military Police apprehended the soldier at the Thaba Tshwane military base on May 17 and charged for allegedly threatening national security and for helping a civilian impersonate a military officer, an offence under the Military Supplementary Disciplinary Measurements Act. 

The civilian was apprehended for allegedly impersonating a military officer and for threatening national security. 

Cyril Ramaphosa's presidential inauguration started on a high note on Saturday. The crowd signalled their joy with deafening cheers.

Mgobozi said vigilant Tshwane Regiment members' suspicions were raised when they noticed "un-procedural behaviour" during the preparations for the president's inauguration.

As the president is also commander-in-chief of the SANDF, the presence of the military forms part of inaugurations.

Mgobozi said the suspects were caught out during the clearing-in procedure of 21 South African Infantry Battalion at Tshwane Regiment - a standard early procedure when preparing for such occasions.

The regiment was going to provide the "silent guard" for the heads of state invited to attend Ramaphosa's inauguration at Loftus Versfeld on May 25. 

During this clearing-in process, a SANDF human resources official noticed that a person completing the routine personnel register form did not pass normal military muster. 

"Following questioning by the Military Police, it was established that the suspect was not a member of the SANDF, was an impostor, and was subsequently arrested," said Mgobozi.

Further investigation led to the arrest of the soldier.  

"It was established that the arrested soldier earlier instructed the clerk tasked with the clearing-in of members of 21 South African Infantry Battalion at Tshwane Regiment to continue clearing the so-called member in, despite the anomalies the clerk picked up. 

"As it turned out, the clerk refused to obey this illegal order and alerted (higher) authorities and Military Police."

The SANDF's human resources department was also involved in the investigation after the eagle-eyed soldiers noticed something was amiss.

The civilian appeared before the Pretoria Magistrate's Court and has been remanded until June 6. 

The soldier appeared before the Thaba Tshwane Military Court of Justice again on Friday and released on bail, with a return date of August 16. 

The Military Police is following further leads and expect to make more arrests.

Mgobozi said the motive for the alleged subterfuge will become clearer at a later stage.

He said SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, warned that no act of criminality would be tolerated and go unpunished in the military.

Shoke would not tolerate any unpatriotic or disloyal behaviour, said Mgobozi. 


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