Parliament, Friday, 5 March 2021 – The Select Committee on Security and Justice today received a briefing from the Department of Military Veterans on benefits for military veterans, service delivery of those benefits per province, challenges facing the delivery of benefits and management of the database used for the distribution of benefits.

The department reported that despite the challenges it encounters, benefits that are currently dispensed include compensation to the military veterans who sustained disabling injuries or severe psychological and neuro-psychiatric trauma, dedicated counselling and treatment to the military veterans, access to healthcare, housing and education.

In welcoming the presentation, the committee expressed its dissatisfaction with non-attendance of its meetings by the Minister and the Deputy Minister and, according to the committee, the Minister never attended its meetings during the 5th Parliament either. Furthermore, the committee said a meeting with the Minister is crucial to inform the Minister that the department is not making the expected meaningful impact on the military veterans.

The committee said what the department has done regarding the distribution of benefits to the military veterans is discouraging and disgraceful, given the fact that this year the country celebrates 27 years of democratic dispensation and it has been 10 years since the Department of Military Veterans was established to look after the welfare of military veterans.

It told the department that it is doing very little and not making an impact on people who sacrificed their lives for the attainment of the democratic dispensation which is enjoyed by all. Furthermore, the committee told the department that even the little that the department is doing for military veterans, is done unequally. It said according to the report, there are military veterans who are not recognised by the department because of their locations, accreditation and some because they are not included on the database of military veterans.

In response to a string of questions which the committee asked on the distribution of benefits, the department said its budget for the 2020/21 financial year was very limited and that R683 million was reduced to R480 million. The reduced budget had grossly affected all the programmes of the department, including its response to the military veterans which includes the distribution of benefits to the military veterans.

The committee wanted more details on the distribution of benefits. The department was able to provide details on health and wellness, education, houses, pension and transport. On health and wellness benefits, it reported that military veterans enjoy those benefits. On education, the department reported that it is supporting over 3 000 students and learners, notwithstanding some challenges, and that it has made significant strides but they can do more.

On houses, it said it relies on the Department of Human Settlements to deliver on that benefit. It said despite the challenges, from 2012 to date, the department has delivered 1 783 houses to the military veterans. It said there are interventions that include the presidential intervention to accelerate the delivery of housing benefits to the military veterans. On pension and public transport, it reported that these benefits are inactive because the department is still busy with policy formulation and the service delivery model, however, that preparation is at an advanced stage.

The committee told the department to respond in writing on issues it was unable to respond to today, and submit those written responses within 14 days. The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Shahidabibi Shaikh, said: “We need further details and plans. We need to monitor the cooperation between the department and other government departments on these benefits.“


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