Defence committee concerned about soldier violence during lockdown


Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) supports deployment of national defence force elements to ensure lockdown protocols and regulations are adhered to, but is concerned about reported excessive use of violence by soldiers.

Committee chairman Cyril Xaba said in a statement it was “disheartening to note complaints exposing excessive use of force undermining the dignity of citizens during the lockdown”.

“We (the PCDMV) appeal to SANDF members responsible to conduct themselves in a manner befitting their stature and consistent with their constitutional obligations to defend and protect the Republic and its people in accordance with the constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.”

“We also call on citizens to co-operate with law enforcement agencies deployed in pursuit of their mandate. We believe the power vested in the national defence force and the police service creates a contractual relationship with the people, which should not be abused,” Xaba said.

“The committee believes at this critical time we should guard against escalation of hostilities between citizens and law enforcement agencies, exercise maximum restraint and strengthen public confidence in the abilities of these agencies to protect and defend the people.

“The committee is mindful of difficulties in the maintenance of peace and stability in a multi-cultural and diverse society such as ours, especially under lockdown conditions. Citizens are called on to respect lockdown regulations, not to resist arrest when breaches are committed and to report civil rights violations to authorities.

“Let us all act responsibly,” Xaba said.