Parliament has heard four cases of soldier misconduct involving civilians were reported to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) since the national state of disaster and the congruent lockdown started more than three months ago.
In a written reply to a question asked by IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) MP Inkosi Russel Nsikayezwe Cebekhulu, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans said the incidents included the death of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa on Good Friday.
Her response states: “An internal investigation in a form of a board of inquiry (BOI) was conducted and finalised. The members allegedly involved were placed on special leave to allow the SAPS investigation to run smoothly and be finalised as well. Allowing SAPS [South African Police Service] process to proceed will assist to determine what the cause of death is. It must be mentioned another parallel investigation by the Military Ombud would be done as directed by the Minister”.
According to the Military Ombud, retired three-star general Vusi Masondo, Khosa’s death was initially brought to his attention by Democratic Alliance MP Kobus Marais.
While Cebekhulu’s question to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula asks only for information on soldier misconduct, Masondo’s office earlier this month said it received 29 “valid complaints” about soldier abuse or misbehaviour since the lockdown commenced.
Mapisa-Nqakula gave information on incidents in Sebokeng, Gauteng; Cato Manor, KwaZulu-Natal and Ikageng in North West in her reply to the IFP MP.
Her verbatim reply said: “SANDF members were captured on social media assaulting a young man in Sebokeng. Those members have since appeared on negative office orders where they were duly reprimanded and warned against such behaviour. An assault case has also been opened and is still under investigation thereof. No internal investigation was convened since the matter was handled through the Officer Commanding office orders process”.
The third soldier misconduct incident Cebekhulu was informed of was said by Mapisa-Nqakula to be “alleged common law assault” in Cato Manor.
“This came to the SANDF’s attention when the SAPS investigating officer contacted the Company Commander with a view to interview our members. No internal investigation has been done as this was not reported to us. SAPS is investigating,” the response stated.
The fourth and last misconduct incident was also allegedly common law assault was in Ikageng, a North West town near Potchefstroom.
According to Mapisa-Nqakula, and again taken verbatim from her response: “This incident was reported to us as an altercation between two SANDF members. We will then allow SAPS to carry on with its own investigation on the matter. This will also help determine if there are other people involved or not”.
Police dockets have been opened for all four incidents.
“Internal Departmental boards of inquiries have not been convened, but we understand the Military Ombud and/or Human Rights Commission are also investigating some incidents,” the Ministerial response finishes.