The death of Collins Khosa is, as far as can currently be established, being investigated only by the Military Ombud and police.
This after Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula last week told the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) “in her opinion there is no finalised board of inquiry (BOI) investigation report as she was made to understand the investigation was referred back by the Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and might be reopened for further investigation”.
This is according to a statement issued by Department of Defence (DoD) head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini.
The statement continues: “This understanding turned out not to be correct as the SANDF will not be reopening the BOI for further investigations. The Minister regrets any confusion that might have been caused by her address to the JSCD and by subsequent public reporting of her address to the JSCD”.
It also points out a police criminal investigation is “ongoing”, adding Mapisa-Nqakula “assigned to the Military Ombud the function to conduct further investigations on the complaint regarding the Khosa incident”.
“Further investigations” that appear to take into account the death of the Alexandra resident, apparently killed by “security forces” (police, soldiers and Johannesburg Metro police) over the Easter weekend, are already registered with retired general Vusi Masondo’s office.
Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kobus Marais, who is his party’s shadow defence and military veterans minister, confirmed to defenceWeb he registered the Khosa death with the Ombud, citing case number MO/DIA/12/1/0039/20-21 as a reference. The Military Ombud did not respond directly to defenceWeb inquiries about Khosa’s death saying only a media statement would be issued. Head of communications at the Ombud office in EcoPark, Centurion, Nthombikayise Queeneth Mdluli Jacha, did not give a release date.
Marais is scathing of the manner in which President Cyril Ramaphosa’s defence minister handled the death of the Alexandra man and subsequent public outcry calling it “shambolic”. According to him, Mapisa-Nqakula “shockingly backtracked” on her words to the Parliamentary committee.
He raises questions about the BOI saying the confusion and contradictions fuel speculation the internal military investigation into Khosa’s untimely death was a sham devoid of transparency and due process.
“The DA maintains the investigation (by the military BOI) was solely an exercise to exonerate soldiers implicated in Khosa’s death. This was never about justice for the Khosa family.”
Marais raises four questions he will submit for Ministerial answer as per Parliamentary questions protocol.
They are: Did the Minister mislead Parliament? Did she not know she signed the affidavit submitted to court? Was she undermined by the military leadership? And, has she lost their trust and support?
The DoD HoC’s statement has it that Military Ombud investigations into Khosa’s death are “envisaged to be conducted and concluded within eight weeks”.
This is a far cry from the average turnaround time for complaints made to the Ombud. defenceWeb was told in April the average turnaround time for an investigation to be finalised is 247 days, just on eight months.