Investigation still ongoing, says defence minister on Collins Khosa case

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers patrol the streets in Yeoville, Johannesburg, on April 18, 2020, during a joint operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to enforce a national lockdown to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Picture: WIKUS DE WET / AFP

Speaking before the national council of provinces on Tuesday, the minister assured the council that the case was still receiving attention.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says several law enforcement entities has made the case of Collins Khosa’s death their top priority and assured that the case was still receiving attention.

Khosa was allegedly beaten to death by members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) when they saw half a glass of alcohol in his yard in Alexandra.

According to his family, Khosa died later in hospital after he was choked and beaten, slammed against the wall, and hit with the butt of a machine gun.

Speaking before the national council of provinces (NCOP) to field oral questions on Tuesday, the minister assured the council that the case was still receiving attention.

“I am singling out the Collins Khosa case in particular because it is a matter of interest right now in South Africa and it is a matter which relates to the death of a human being and therefore, it is necessary for me to indicate to honourable members and to South Africans that because at some point we said the board of inquiry has completed its work and that does not mean this case is not receiving attention.

READ MORE: High Court in Pretoria rules in favour of Collins Khosa’s family

“This case is receiving attention from three different entities, which is namely your SANDF board of inquiry, your military ombudsman and the last one, which is the joint investigation conducted by the military police and the South African Police Service (SAPS),” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula was responding to a question on whether government has taken responsibility on the reported incidents where SANDF officers had been accused of alleged acts of brutality against civilians.

She said government had expressed empathy with the families suffering the consequences of brutality against civilians, and in particular, the Khosa family, for what happened to them.

“Obviously I am the executive in the department and anything that happens to members of our society, anything that happens to that structure, you get ashamed, you get embarrassed.

“And I must say that when the allegations emerged, I am on record of having made a statement to the effect that we do not accept instances where law enforcement agencies abuse power.

“Even when the matter of the Khosa case, even though there hasn’t been an investigation that gives us a finding as to who should be accountable for this case, I am still on record as having said, on behalf of the South African government, we have our hands in shame for what has happened, for the loss of life.

ALSO READ: Collins Khosa inquiry still ongoing, says defence minister

“I don’t think an impression should be created that we do not take responsibility, we take responsibility. We make these statements because we do take responsibility for whatever action – whether good or bad.”

Last month, the Pretoria High Court ordered the suspension of SANDF members and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers who were involved in the fatal beating of Khosa, pending an investigation. The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the high court ruling.

The judge overseeing the case, Hans Fabricius, had ruled that every individual within South Africa’s borders was entitled to the right to human dignity, the right to life and the right not to be tortured.

Fabricius said it could be beneficial to grant an order instructing law enforcement to act within the confines of the Constitution during the lockdown.

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