Military Ombud is probing 33 human rights abuse cases against SANDF members
Military ombudsman spokesperson Ntombikayise Mdluli-Jaca told Independent Media that it would take 90 days for the ombudsman to complete each case before forwarding the report to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula and General Solly Zacharia Shoke for action against perpetrators.
“There are 33 cases reported to the office (of the ombudsman), and as we speak we are busy with the assessment of the cases,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
She said Gauteng had 20 cases of offences, mostly committed in areas such as Alexandra in Joburg, where soldiers allegedly beat a resident to death earlier this month.
She also said other cases came from Limpopo and Cape Town.
Mdluli-Jaca said they had forwarded one of the complaints to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) because it was about police brutality. She said they were interviewing complainants, alleged perpetrators, witnesses and other interested parties.
“We do not charge anyone as our responsibility is to send recommendations to the minister, who will then decide what to do. But, currently, we have not sent any recommendation as we are still busy with the process.”
Mdluli-Jaca said some complaints emanated from videos that had appeared on social media.
“We expect complainants to give us witnesses and proof, whether in a form of pictures or any information.”
South African Human Rights Commission's chief executive Tseliso Thipanyane said the commission’s warning against violating human rights during enforcement of lockdown seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“We are now open to any matter of human right violation arising on how law enforcement officials have handled people in enforcing the lockdown,” he said.
In the latest incident, 33-year-old Sphesihle Zikalala from Ladysmith, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, allegedly survived a police gunshot early this week while he was returning from a spaza shop to buy electricity.
“We have spoken to the police saying, ‘guys, human rights must be protected even when we are enforcing the lockdown, and those who broke the law must still be treated in a humane manner as possible',” Thipanyane said.
He said police officers were also not setting a good example as there were reports that more than 100 had been arrested for breaking the regulations.
The DA in KwaZulu-Natal, which said it had reported Zikalala’s attack to the Ipid, said it was shocked by the police's behaviour.
“Our laws allow citizens to leave the house if there is an urgent need, this was one of them and the young man did not deserve to be attacked and shot.
“We are really appalled by this behaviour and we hope the wrong-doers are arrested soon,” said provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirmed that Zikalala’s case had been referred to Ipid.
Ipid acting spokesperson Sontaga Seisa did not respond to questions sent to her.