The four as yet unidentified soldiers who allegedly assaulted and killed an Alexandra resident while on national state of disaster duty acted improperly, irregularly and contravened the national defence force’s code of conduct, a Military Ombud investigation has found.
Collins Khosa died following injuries sustained and apparently inflicted by soldiers searching his Alexandra, Johannesburg, house for alcohol on Good Friday (10 April), two weeks into national lockdown as a host of regulations either restricting or banning most normal activities came into force.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was reported as telling Parliament on Wednesday the Ombud investigation into Khosa’s death found evidence of improper conduct, impropriety as well as ignorance of operational orders and Operation Notlela rules of engagement.
TimesLive reports the Ombud, retired general Vusi Masondo, recommended “appropriate disciplinary measures” against the soldiers involved, their platoon commander and “those with the commander”.
One Ombud finding the Minister shared with Parliament was that the soldiers who allegedly assaulted Khosa were not accompanied by police from either the national service or the Johannesburg Metro when they allegedly went in search of illegal liquor in the Khosa house. According to Mapisa-Nqakula, Masondo’s investigation report indicated “this was outside the scope of the SANDF (SA National Defence Force)”.
“From the evidence, it is concluded in the process of conducting a search for alcohol, various acts of misconduct were unfortunately committed by the soldiers,” the digital news daily reports Mapisa-Nqakula as saying.
Masondo’s report indicates the soldiers allegedly involved refused to be interviewed or questioned by Ombud investigators. “That did not stop the Ombud who conducted interviews with witnesses, including Khosa’s partner, and neighbours”.
“The soldiers involved reserved their right to remain silent, having been advised by a lawyer,” the minister is reported as saying, further pointing out a police investigation into Khosa’s death is ongoing.
The Khosa death is an agenda item for a Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) virtual meeting set down for 26 August. The committee meets virtually less than 24 hours later to be briefed on Operation Notlela, the national defence force tasking in support of efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus.
defenceWeb requested official statements on the Khosa investigation from Masondo’s office and the Defence Ministry as well as the Department of Defence. None were received at the time of publication.