The insignia of a submarine crew member and a few medals, which appear to be from the Anglo-Boer War make an appearance on Joel Sihle Ngubane’s designer uniform.
On his shoulders are the epaulettes of an air force lieutenant colonel, but with the stripes on the wrong side. The fleet insignia on the cap is that of a naval crewman.
A furious Kubayi, who was this week back at her post after her wedding last weekend, called City Press’ sister newspaper Rapport to defend her husband’s outfit.
“My husband’s suit was designed by Linda Makhanya and the material comes from Italy.
“It is not a uniform. The outfit is designed to look like a pilot’s. You can buy the insignia at any shop. It has nothing to do with the defence force,” she said.
“If it weren’t for the fact that I was a minister, this would not be news. All you want to do is ridicule me. I’m just a woman who hasn’t even been married for a week and you don’t even want to give me the chance to enjoy being married.”
In an email, Kubayi threatened legal action against the newspaper.
However, some soldiers and former soldiers were furious when the photos began to circulate. One said Ngubane looked like an “unguided missile”.
Ngubane said the insignia could be bought from any army surplus store.
He was entirely unaware that the Defence Act made it a criminal offence for anyone to wear a military uniform, parts of a uniform, or any defence force insignia that the person is not entitled to.
“We chose the white colour because it was for a wedding. It’s expensive, imported material,” said Ngubane.
Defence force spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula would speak to Kubayi about the issue.
“The defence force asks that members of the public not wear military items, as it is illegal,” he said.
Ngubane is a director of the company Sizavox, which supplies computer and software systems to entities including the state. He has previously worked for the SA Reserve Bank, Vodacom and Telkom.
This is not the first time someone who has worn a military uniform has caused consternation.
In 2011, then defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu arrived at Freedom Day celebrations in an outfit that resembled a naval uniform, rounded off with delicate sandals and the golden cords of a military attaché. At the time, Sisulu’s office said it was merely for ceremonial purposes.