File photo: ANA/Henk Kruger
File photo: ANA/Henk Kruger

Soldiers cleared of Alexandra man's murder

By Zelda Venter Time of article published May 28, 2020

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SOLDIERS accused of assaulting an Alexandra man, who later succumbed to his injures, have been cleared of the charges. 

According to a report attached to an affidavit which was handed to the Gauteng High Court, an internal inquiry found that the soldiers cannot be held responsible for Collins Khoza's death. 

The report stated that Khoza was "pushed” and “klapped” and “conscious and healthy when the security forces left.”

According to the South African National Defence Force's report, an internal board of inquiry has concluded its investigation into the incident on April 10 and found that neither the SANDF nor the Joburg Metro Police were at fault.

This, in spite of a post mortem report stating that Khosa had died of blunt force trauma to the head. According to the SANDF report, there is no link between the injuries he sustained and the actions of the soldiers.

The affidavit and the inquiry's findings were handed to court following a judgment by Judge Hans Fabricius. Earlier, Judge Fabricius ordered that the internal investigations into Khosa's death had to be concluded and that a report of the findings be submitted to the court.

His judgment followed an application by Khosa’s family in which they called for a proper investigation into his death as well as that proper guidelines be issued to the armed forces as how to deal with the public in terms of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

SANDF legal advisor, Elvis Hobyana, said the members who were implicated in the death of Khosa, but whose names were now cleared by the board of inquiry, will, however, remain suspended on full pay.

He said they will not report for work pending the outcome of criminal investigations by the SAPS. Judge Fabricius earlier also ordered that these officers had to be placed on special leave pending the outcome of all investigations.

The board meanwhile said in its report that it did interview police witnesses who were in and around Khosa’s home on the day of the incident, the Johannesburg Metro Police officers on the scene, as well as a pathologist and neurologist.

It said that oral interviews with the Khosa family were not conducted as the board accepted  their statements which formed part of the police docket.

The officer in command that day said that officers were deployed to patrol Alexandra Township. Two female officers noticed a civilian in Moeketsi Street “in contravention to the lockdown regulations.” 

The one officer said she saw Thabiso Muvhango, Khosa’s his brother-in-law, standing outside the gate and she instructed him to go back inside the yard. She said saw a glass with alcohol inside the yard and asked whose it was.

Khosa then came out of the house and an argument ensued. The officer said she called the rest of the members and the two men were “forced to comply.”

In this regard it was said the force used was “pushing” and “clapping” before the men complied and walked to the house. According to her, she and her colleagues then left.

They were only told much later that night that there was a dead body - that of Khosa - at the house.

The findings of the board included that Khosa and Muvhango undermined the two female soldiers and said the attitudes of the two were “provocative.” 

It was further said that when back-up was called, the force used was simply to achieve the aim of getting the men back into the house.  The board said most of the statements in the docket said Khosa walked into the house himself when the soldiers left and none of the witnesses mentioned that he had vomited, as claimed by the Khosa family.

It said that based on the contradictions, the board concluded that Khosa was conscious and healthy when the security forces left.

Regarding the post mortem findings that Khosa died of blunt force trauma, the board said the report was done by a junior registrar who was not supervised.

They concluded that there were “some shortcomings” in her report.

The findings of the board read “The injuries on the body of Mr Khosa cannot be linked  with the  cause of death. Consequently the board concluded that the death of Mr Khosa was not caused by the SANDF members, nor the JMPD.”

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