‘Beer poured over his head, choked, kicked, hit with machine gun’: how Collin Khosa died in Alex

15 April 2020 - 12:25
By Iavan Pijoos
Collin Khosa was allegedly killed by soldiers in Alexandra on Good Friday.
Image: Alaister Russell Collin Khosa was allegedly killed by soldiers in Alexandra on Good Friday.

In a legal letter of demand sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the family of Collin Khosa has explained in detail what happened when he died in Alexandra on Good Friday.

Khosa was allegedly killed by defence force (SANDF) soldiers in the township, north of Johannesburg.

“Preliminary medical opinion is that the cause of death is directly related to the assault by the members of the SANDF,” read the letter of demand.

Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said a murder case was opened at Alexandra police station.

The Khosa family have demanded financial compensation for loss of support, trauma, shock, psychological assistance and any medical expenses that they may have incurred.

In the letter of demand, lawyer Wikus Steyl of Ian Levitt Attorneys said that according to eyewitnesses, female SANDF members entered Khosa’s yard with sjamboks and accused him of breaking the lockdown regulations after they saw an unattended camping chair outside the home and a “half-full cup of alcohol”.

Steyl said Khosa told the soldiers that even if he had been drinking, that would not be an offence as it was inside his property.

The members allegedly did not take his response “kindly”, seemed agitated and continued to raid the house and confiscated two beers from a fridge, according to the letter.

Khosa was ordered outside and on the way out a member allegedly damaged his car by slamming the gate against it.

They then called for back-up from other SANDF members and Johannesburg metro police officers.

Three members of the SANDF arrived and were briefed on the incident.

Without seeking further details from Khosa, they allegedly “manhandled and assaulted” him.

“In particular, they: poured beer on top of his head and on his body; one member of the SANDF held his hand behind his back, while the other choked him; slammed him against the cement wall; hit him with the butt of the machine gun; kicked, slapped him, punched him on his face and on his stomach and ribs; and slammed him against the steel gate”. 

Steyl said videos of the incident recorded by witnesses were deleted by SANDF members.

“The onlookers were also threatened with violence by the SANDF and have been afraid to assist the family investigation of the matter.”

When Khosa was taken to his house he presented “signs such as vomiting, losing speech and progressively lost his ability to walk and had to be rested in bed”.

Emergency services later declared Khosa dead.

“In our submission there is no justification of the actions by SANDF and JMPD,” read the letter, also addressed to defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the JMPD.

Steyl said the assault was a violation Khosa’s rights to life, dignity and freedom.

“Despite the national lockdown every South African enjoys these rights. As per the provisions of section 37 of the constitution, these rights are so fundamental that they may not be derogated from, even during a state of emergency,” the letter read.

In the letter the Khosa family demanded a full account of the incident, names of those  present, what steps had been taken to discipline them and asked the SANDF to publicly condemn the incident.

The family also demanded that the soldiers and police involved be placed on suspension while the investigation was ongoing.

SANDF spokesperson Col Louis Kirstein said on Tuesday that the military would co-operate with the police investigation.

“The SANDF reiterates that its members are expected to act within the confines of the law during this difficult period as they enforce the lockdown regulations and help save lives in support of the police.

“Any action outside the law will not be condoned,” Kirstein said.

TimesLIVE has asked the SANDF for additional comment and will update this story when it is received.

Read the full letter of demands by the Khosa family here: