Soldiers apparently part of a “security forces” group involved in the assault and subsequent death of an Alexandra resident cannot be held liable for his death.
This is as per the findings of a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) board of inquiry (BOI) which was attached to an explanatory affidavit filed in the North Gauteng High Court, digital website News24 reports.
The affidavit was filed to update the Pretoria court on steps taken to adhere to rulings made by Judge Hans Fabricius in the Collins Khosa case. It was handed to court days after the SANDF issued a code of conduct specific to Operation Notlela, the military deployment in support of police during the National State of Disaster declared as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. The case was brought by the dead man’s family after the SANDF said it would not suspend soldiers apparently involved while the death was under investigation. The judge ruled those involved – metro police, police and soldiers – should all be suspended while investigations were underway.
The inquiry, News24 states without giving a source, relied on statements made to police by Khosa’s relatives. It reportedly claimed two female soldiers were “undermined” after they allegedly saw “a glass of alcohol” and entered the property.
The attitude of the two men (Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango) was provocative, according to the News24 report.
The investigation noted the force used to have the men comply with instructions was “pushing and clapping (sic)”.
The BOI, led by Brigadier General Viscount Ngcobo, further found Khosa was “conscious and healthy when the security forces left”.
It said no witnesses “mentioned the vomiting of Mr Khosa” contrary to other accounts of events.
The BOI said it consulted a neurologist, a Professor M Baker, who raised concerns “about the level of pathologist assigned to deal with such a sensitive case” and “pointed out shortcomings and contradictions in the report”. It did not say what these were.
The BOI noted Khosa had a “small cut above the left eye, a scratch on the left leg under the knee”, his cause of death was “blunt force head injury”, and the injuries on his body “cannot be linked with the cause of death”.
It concluded “the death of Khosa was not caused by SANDF members or the JMPD”.
The inquiry took exception to police action after Khosa died; noting opening a murder docket “was unacceptable”.
The police investigation into Khosa’s death continues and the soldiers implicated “have been ordered not to report for duty” until the criminal probe is complete.