File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Alex man’s family plan to sue after his death allegedly at the hands of SANDF soldiers

By Mzilikazi Wa Afrika And Karabo Ngoepe Time of article published Apr 19, 2020

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Johannesburg - The family of the man who was allegedly assaulted by members of the SANDF in Alexandra and later died, is planning to sue the government for up to R10 million for their loss.

Collins Khosa died on Good Friday from severe injuries. He was accused of breaking lockdown regulations when the soldiers found a camping chair and half a glass of alcohol in his yard.

The father of three was allegedly taken outside his house and assaulted in full view of his neighbours.

Khosa’s death, which brought to nine the number of deaths allegedly by the authorities since the lockdown, led to a public outcry this week and sparked an unprecedented public relations campaign by the SANDF.

Members were seen waving to communities in Alexandra and even visited Khosa’s family.

This came as Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, accused some members of the public of circulating on social media “half versions” of what would have transpired during the patrols by members of the SANDF, to advance their

agendas.

In a letter his family lawyers sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Joburg metro police chief David Tembe, they allege Khosa was “manhandled and assaulted”.

They added that he was “slammed against a cement wall and steel gate” and hit with the butt of a machine gun as he was kicked, slapped and punched in the face and stomach.

According to witnesses and Khosa’s family, the man was assaulted for drinking alcohol with his friend, Thabiso Muvhango.

Three soldiers allegedly raided Muvhango’s home.

Soldiers and police have been patrolling the streets of South Africa since the lockdown started on March 26. Ramaphosa had initially announced a 21-day lockdown which he later extended by 14 days, in a bid to deal with the spread of Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

The letter also revealed that “one member of the SANDF held his hand behind his back while the other choked him”.

In the letter, the family made six demands which included a full account of what happened, public condemnation of the incident by the defence minister and names of those present.

The state attorneys, on behalf of Ramaphosa and Mapisa-Nqakula, acknowledged receiving the letter but added that “at this stage, we are unable to admit or deny any allegations, as we do not have all the facts regarding the incident. It is also for this reason that we are in no position to make any commitments.”

The state attorneys reiterated that the SANDF “was authorised by the President for service in assistance of other state departments and border control in combating the spread of Covid-19.

“The proper procedures in this regard were followed.” The family lawyer, Wikus Steyl, confirmed yesterday that he was given instructions to lodge an urgent application against Ramaphosa, Tembe and Mapisa-Nqakula this week because they failed to meet their six demands.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who offered his service to the family, yesterday said the family would lodge a civil claim against the government after the lockdown.

“Although we cannot quantify a person’s life, we are looking at suing between R5m to R10m,” he said.

SANDF spokesperson Colonel Louis Kirstein said the army was “co-operating fully with the investigation”.

He couldn’t confirm whether the people implicated in the matter were suspended.

The South African National Defence Union (Sandu) called for a military inquiry into Khosa’s death.

Khosa was buried yesterday at his village of Mawa Block 12 in Bolobedu, outside Tzaneen in Limpopo.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent this week, Makwetla said South Africans needed to be cognisant of people with hidden agendas.

He said people need to interrogate everything they see on social media and also request context to the clips that are being posted.

Makwetla was responding to an article by the Sunday Independent regarding the heavy handedness of soldiers throughout the country which resulted in Khosa’s death.

Social media has been flooded with images of soldiers making people do push-ups and frog jumps in the streets. There have been videos of the soldiers kicking and hitting people believed to be ignoring the lockdown regulations.

Makwetla, however, lamented the pictures and videos circulating on social media, saying they only captured the actions of the soldiers and not what led to it.

“From the reports we now have, social media has not been doing us good in some aspects in that there are incidents that were so well-edited such as that of what happened in the Western Cape and Sebokeng, from the account provided by the military, the clips only give the viewer the reaction of the SANDF members without capturing the entire episode of what happened before.

“As a result, people will make conclusions based on what they see which is very infuriating but there is no context. Some of the clips are not responsibly capturing the conduct of our members out there,” he said.

Makwetla admitted that the nation was not properly informed of the role the SANDF would play during the period. He said many believed that the soldiers were simply there to enforce the lockdown regulations and nothing else.

The Sunday Independent

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