SANDF members in Alexandra during the 21-day lockdown. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
SANDF members in Alexandra during the 21-day lockdown. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

DA calls for military ombudsman to investigate abuse by SANDF members during lockdown

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Mar 30, 2020

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Johannesburg - The behaviour of SA National Defence Force members during the country's nationwide lockdown has come under scrutiny as videos surfaced on social media showing soldiers allegedly abusing their power.

The DA has called on the military ombudsman to investigate the cases that have appeared on social media.

In one video, a man is seen being forced to do squats and push-ups with soldiers watching on. It is unclear when the video was taken, but several people have complained this behaviour was unwarranted.

Other videos have shown soldiers use force in apprehending people who were in their yards and told to go into their homes

There have also been complaints on the difference in treatment of people living in townships and those who live in the suburbs. Videos of allegations of abuse have been mostly from townships and other videos of people breaking the lockdown rules in the suburbs with no consequences, have highlighted what some believe is unfair treatment of poor South Africans.

The DA says the behaviour by SANDF members is disgusting and should be condemned. The party’s Kobus Marais said he had written to the military ombudsman General Vusi Masondo to request an investigation. The party has also written to Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

“The DA immediately wrote to the Military Ombudsman, General (Ret) Vusi Masondo, to request an independent investigation as the SANDF’s actions are a gross violation of the military’s mandate and the Bill of Rights.

“I also engaged the acting Chief of the Army, Major General M.J. De Goede, who confirmed that the matter had been registered for investigation. We trust that this investigation will be transparent and that the SANDF and SAPS members involved will be held fully accountable for their deplorable behaviour,” Marais said.

“While we agree that those who do not comply with the lockdown regulations should face the consequences for their actions, in accordance to the lockdown regulations, we condemn any act which seeks to humiliate and degrade citizens. The DA has written to the Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in this regard.”

Another parliamentary leader, Vuyo Zungula, leader of the African Transformation Movement, also weighed in on the matter. He took to his Twitter account to post: “Until I see Whites, Indians getting the same treatment for breaking the Lockdown rules I will view the SANDF and SAPS as the enemy of the people.” 

Nqakula had said on Friday close to 3 000 soldiers had been deployed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to assist SAPS in enforcing the lockdown regulations. She said the military was there to assist SAPS and they had no mandate to arrest people. 

The country is currently on day four of the 21-day national lockdown which is meant to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus which has infected over 1200 South Africans. Two people have died due to the virus, the health department confirmed on Sunday. 

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