Twelve military doctors who ‘disobeyed’ a WhatsApp message to be deployed on a COVID-19 mission to the Eastern Cape have been acquitted by the Military Court in Thaba Tshwane on charges of disobedience, Beeld reports. A senior military judge granted a discharge of the officials, one of whom is a colonel and head of a medical department, after the military closed its case.
Defence attorney Brian Plaatjies argued it was a ‘tragedy’ when the military resorted to giving orders through WhatsApp when it has standing procedures for deployments. The defence argued that they did not view the WhatsApp messages as official orders.
The Gauteng-based doctors, who include paediatricians, dermatologists, GPS, anaesthetists and ear, nose and throat specialists, were told on a WhatsApp Chat group on 3 July 2020 to report to the Waterkloof Airforce base on 5 July 2020 to be deployed to the Eastern Cape for eight weeks. When the doctors questioned the validity of the instruction, they were brought to court on 6 July 2020.