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Family of Alex man 'beaten by soldiers' seek justice at Constitutional Court

21 April 2020 - 14:03 By Nonkululeko Njilo
The family of the Alexandra man wants government to be held accountable by the highest court in the land. File photo.
The family of the Alexandra man wants government to be held accountable by the highest court in the land. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times/Thapelo Morebudi

The family of a man who died after he was allegedly assaulted by soldiers during a lockdown operation in Alexandra, Johannesburg, is going directly to the Constitutional Court in a bid to hold the government accountable for his death.

Collins Khosa died on April 10. Details of events leading up to his death were revealed in a legal letter of demand sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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

Khosa's family have demanded financial compensation for loss of support, trauma, shock and psychological assistance. 

They are applying to the Constitutional Court, citing several state entities and seeking the immediate dismissal of the involved soldiers.

Speaking on Radio 702 on Tuesday, attorney Wikus Steyl said the application was for protection and prevention of further abuse and misconduct by members of the defence force.

“The situation has become so dire that we must approach the apex court, and that court must intervene in government decisions. If the soldiers who were involved in Mr Khosa’s killing are not disarmed and removed, who knows what they will do tonight or tomorrow? Another person can be killed in an instant,” said Steyl. 

He said Khosa’s family are seeking accountability and want the court to disclose operational details of conduct by police and soldiers during the lockdown. 

Steyl said: “We want the government, soldiers and metro police to be held accountable for their actions. When the SANDF was deployed along with police, no code of conduct was issued. There are no strict rules on how the membership should conduct themselves and how they should enforce the lockdown. They decide who must be punished and how and that simply cannot be allowed.

“A clear outline must be provided of how, when and under what circumstances security officers are allowed to enforce the lockdown. At this stage they go on word of mouth from their commanders."

He said operational guidelines did not exist and this was cause for concern because it was a national requirement that guidelines be published. 

Steyl said he had a long list of cases in which members had allegedly manhandled, assaulted or exposed citizens to inhumane behaviour.  

“Our stance is that we should go to the Constitutional Court as soon as possible because their judgment is applicable to the country," he said.  

The testimony of Khosa's wife, Nomsa Montsha, is contained in an affidavit. In it she shared details about what transpired on the day Khosa was allegedly assaulted.   

“I kept shouting that they must stop, stop hurting Mr Khosa as they would kill him. My plea was ignored," she said.

Three hours after the incident, Montsha said she watched Khosa vomit, lose his speech and eventually stop moving. She called emergency services, who declared him dead.