Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the government is embarrassed by continued reports of members of law enforcement agencies’ brutality against civilians.
Mapisa-Nqakula made these comments when answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). She also dismissed suggestions that the government was doing nothing about soldiers who had abused civilians.
She said investigations were underway by several agencies within the defence force as well as the police service.
Mapisa-Nqakula added that she had sent a representative to the family of Collins Khosa, who was killed – allegedly by soldiers.
“We do not accept instances where law enforcement agencies abuse power… We hang our heads in shame for what has happened…” says Mapisa-Nqakula.
Since the start of the national lockdown, reported incidents of brutality by SAPS, SANDF and other members of law enforcement agencies increased drastically, with some leading to a number of deaths.
The South African Military Ombudsman was later called in to investigate complaints against members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) during the lockdown.
The complaints relate to allegations of excessive force and physical abuse against citizens. This as police also investigated the death of a man north of Johannesburg, after he was allegedly beaten by defence force members.
The Defence Ministry insisted that investigations into the death of an Alexandra resident are far from closed and that the Military Ombud was expected to complete a report into the matter within a period of weeks.
The ministry had issued a statement admitting that Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa Ngqakula was incorrect when she told a joint standing committee on defence that the probe into Khosa’s death might be re-opened after the military reportedly found that Khosa had not died from injuries he allegedly sustained during a beating at the hands of soldiers.
The apparent exoneration of the soldiers by the SANDF was questioned by a number of observers.
Mapisa-Nqakula said in addition to the Ombud’s investigation into the matter, a criminal investigation is also being conducted by the police.
The High Court in Pretoria ruled that the soldiers are suspended and the army produces a report into the matter. However, the SANDF report apparently says Khosa’s death cannot be linked to the injuries he sustained.
Since the lockdown began, 11 South Africans have reportedly died as a result of actions by police or defence force members. The Defence Ministry says investigations are continuing by the Military Ombud and police.