Quality education provided to military vets, dependants

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cape Town – The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, says government is making progress in providing education support for military veterans and their dependants.

The Minister said this when she fielded questions for oral reply, along with Ministers in the Social Services cluster, at the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

ANC Member of Parliament Mohapi Jihad Mohapi from the Free State had asked the Minister whether military veterans and their dependants were being provided with quality education.

“Significant progress has been made in providing quality education for military veterans and their dependants.

“An education support policy has been adopted, which will be implemented in 2017/18,” the Minister said.

The Minister said in 2014 – when the Department of Military Veterans piloted the project - education support was provided to about 200 military veterans and their dependants.

She said the demand for the benefit has grown significantly since that year.

“In the 2016 academic year, the Department of Military Veterans provided education support to 5 807 military veterans and their dependants.

“This exceeded the target which we had set ourselves of 4 500.

“As I am talking now, as of May 2017, we have 8 768 applications which have been received for both basic and tertiary education, 5 225 of which are continuing learners from 2016 academic year and 3 543 are new applicants,” she said.

The Minister said as a result of the increasing demand, the department was faced with huge challenges relating to human and financial capacity to process and pay for education support.

“New standard operating procedures are being developed for 2017/18 financial year so that we can implement our education support policy effectively.

“It is also proposed to significantly increase the budget,” she said.

Operation Corona recording several successes

The Minister said, meanwhile, that Operation Corona, a collaboration between border management agencies from South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland, was yielding good returns.

The SA National Defence Force is currently deploying 3 battalions and 15 companies for Operation Corona to safeguard the Republic of South African boarders through mobile and foot patrols, supported by the border police of the South African Police Service, traffic departments, the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“Now, because we are not working alone, we are working with other government departments, we have had operational successes.

“In the year 2016/17, we have confiscated illegal weapons; we have confiscated dagga; we have apprehended illegal foreigners; a total of 6570 for that financial year; we have recovered 84 vehicles, we have confiscated contraband worth R13 million plus; and of course you would know that in the area of Kruger National Park, we are also working very closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs with the rangers to prevent people who are coming in for Rhino poaching,” she said.

Department establishing a credible, reliable military vets database

The Minister was also asked whether the department had a credible and reliable database of military veterans in order to ensure that bona fide military veterans are provided with services that are outlined in the Military Veterans Act.

“The establishment of a credible, reliable and secure national Military Veterans database is an ongoing effort, executed collaboratively with the support and participation of key role players, including the South African National Military Veterans Association, which is an umbrella body of military veterans.

“This process also includes individual military veterans associations and the Department of Defence.

“The database is the baseline for determining beneficiaries and the credibility of the Department of Military Veterans system.

“It is our core business process for this reason, it has been identified as the most important, even in the turn-around system which we have developed last year,” she said.

The Minister said the department is currently mapping the processes for the database with a view to determine clear operational rules.

Currently, the department’s database has 73 769 records, comprising  6 051 deceased military veterans, whose integrity and accuracy is being assessed and improved continuously.

She also said that about 67 000 military veterans are, according to official records, still alive. – SAnews.gov.za

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