The Military Ombud, retired general Vusi Masondo, is keeping his cards close to the chest as regards his office’s investigation into the death of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa early on in the national state of disaster.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula maintains she requested the former SA National Defence Force (SANDF) chief of staff to investigate Khosa’s death. Her request came well after Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kobus Marais brought it to Masondo’s attention after the Easter weekend when Khosa died after he was apparently assaulted by soldiers who allegedly “caught” him drinking alcohol outside his house in the Sandton township.
This week, Masondo’s office responded to defenceWeb enquiries on the Khosa investigation which it said would be “non-adversarial and administrative”.
The senior communications official in the Department of Defence (DoD) is on record as saying early in June that the Ombud investigation was expected to be finished in eight weeks. This is in stark contrast to the normal length of time – eight months – the Ombud says it takes for an investigation to be completed.
“The report is in its final stages of completion and we are trying our best to adhere to the time frame as undertaken,” was the Ombud response to when the Khosa investigation will be finished.
Masondo’s office said further, once the report is completed, it will be forwarded to the Minister “as it was an investigation directed by her in terms of the Military Ombud Act”.
“The Military Ombud will after consultation with the Minister consider informing interested parties of the outcome of the investigation,” defenceWeb was told. This drew immediate response from Marais, who first made the Ombud aware of Khosa’s death.
“The Ombud promised to inform me,” Marais said adding it was “unacceptable to keep this information tucked away”.
As far as making the Khosa report public is concerned, defenceWeb was told: “The Military Ombud is legally obliged in terms of the Military Ombud Act to keep information obtained during investigations confidential. There is no legal provision that permits the Ombud to publicly release reports. Nevertheless, the Military Ombud, guided by the Minister, will make a decision concerning release of the report to media”.