The Military Ombud investigation into “conduct of soldiers concerning interaction with the Khosa family” is ongoing, retired general Vusi Masondo’s office said in a statement.
He stressed the Ombud investigation was “not a criminal one but a non-adversarial administrative inquiry”.
Collins Khosa, a resident of Alexandra in Sandton, Johannesburg, was allegedly beaten to death by soldiers in a lockdown related incident on Good Friday.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula indicated a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) board of inquiry (BOI) was as far as the Defence Ministry would go. This is notwithstanding different findings by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). In addition to soldiers, there were also police and Johannesburg Metro police on the scene of the fatal Khosa assault, but not necessarily part of it.
According to the Military Ombud statement, Masondo said the SA Police Service (SAPS) was conducting a murder investigation into Khosa’s death. He appears to be approaching the case with an open mind saying “we (the Ombud) are allowed by law to summon any person to submit an affidavit or affirmed declaration or to appear before us to give evidence or produce any document that has a bearing on the matter”.
The Department of Defence (DoD) via its head of communication indicated a report on the Ombud investigation into Khosa’s death would take eight weeks. This is in stark contrast to the eight month investigation period given by the Ombud Office.
All told, Masondo’s office received 29 what it calls “valid complaints” of soldier abuse or misbehaviour since the national state of disaster was implemented at the end of March.
“Investigation of these complaints is at different stages. Those not in our mandate concerning conduct of police were referred to IPID for assistance.
“Since its inception in 2012, it is the first time the Office has seen an upsurge in complaints by the public on soldier conduct relating to heavy handedness, undignified treatment and unlawful confiscation of property,” the statement said.