A soldier is in police custody in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, after he allegedly shot and killed two civilians.
The Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) issued a statement on the shooting, indicating the soldier is deployed either on Operation Corona, the national border protection tasking, or Operation Notlela, the military component of the national state of disaster response instituted to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement makes no mention of the soldier’s unit or whether he is a regular or part-timer (Reserve Force).
The statement has it that two civilians were killed “during an altercation at the residence of his (the soldier’s) girlfriend”.
A case of murder was opened by police and the shooting is being investigated.
The Golela shooting at the weekend is the second in which soldiers are alleged to be involved since the coronavirus lockdown and its regulations came into force at the end of March.
The first was in Mpumalanga a week ago. A soldier, deployed as part of a police support tasking, apparently shot and killed an armed man acting in self-defence. Police are investigating both the death and the mob violence incident at Acornhoek in the Bushbuckridge area that prompted police and soldiers to respond in the first place.
The first civilian death allegedly involving soldiers was in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township over the Easter weekend when Collins Khosa died after he was apparently assaulted by soldiers. A national defence force board of inquiry (BOI) did not blame soldiers for Khosa’s death. A “non-adversarial administrative enquiry” into the Alexandra death is underway by the Military Ombud as is a police murder investigation.