South Africa: SADF clears soldiers who killed unarmed civilian
A SA National Defence Force (SANDF) inquiry has found soldiers, who are accused of killing Alexandra resident Collins Khosa, cannot be held liable for this death as there is no link between the injuries he sustained due to their actions and him dying.
The findings of the inquiry are attached to an explanatory affidavit filed with the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria by the SANDF’s legal adviser, Elvis Hobyana, on Tuesday.
The affidavit was filed to update the court on what steps had been taken to adhere to Judge Hans Fabricius’ orders after he ruled in favour of the Khosa family earlier this month.
Khosa and Thabiso Muvhango, his brother-in-law, got into an altercation with SANDF and Johannesburg metro police officers at his Alexandra house on Good Friday.
The inquiry, which did not interview Khosa’s relatives, relying only on their statements to the police, noted one of the soldiers entered the yard after seeing a glass of alcohol. This was when an argument ensued.
The probe claimed the pair was “undermining the two female soldiers”.
“The attitude of these two men was provocative,” the report noted.
The investigation noted the force used to get the men to comply with the officers’ instructions was “pushing and clapping (sic)”.
The board, led by Brigadier Viscount Ngcobo, further found Khosa was “conscious and healthy when the security forces left”.
It said none of the witnesses “mentioned the vomiting of Mr Khosa” contrary to other accounts of what transpired.
The board added it had consulted a neurologist, one Professor M Baker, who raised concerns “about the level of pathologist assigned to deal with such a sensitive case” and “pointed out some short-comings and contradictions in the report”. It did not say what these “shortcomings and contradictions” were.
A detailed list of all the witnesses approached or testimony was not attached to Hobyana’s affidavit.
Death cannot be linked to injuries
While the board noted Khosa had a “small cut above [the] left eye, a scratch on the left leg under the knee” and his cause of death was “blunt force head injury”, the injuries on his body “cannot be linked with the cause of death”.
It therefore concluded “the death of Mr Khosa was not caused by the SANDF members or the JMPD”.
The inquiry also took exception with the police’s action after Khosa died; noting the move to open a murder docket “was unacceptable”.
The police investigation into Khosa’s death continues, and the soldiers implicated “have been ordered not to report for duty” until the criminal probe has been concluded.
In court papers filed last month, Khosa’s family claims officers and soldiers held his hands behind his back while he was choked and beaten.
They also claimed he was pushed up against a wall and hit with the butt of a machine gun.
In his judgment, Fabricius was scathing of the SANDF and police’s use of excessive force during the lockdown, ordering the security bosses to instruct soldiers and officers to act in accordance with the Constitution.