Collins Khosa's family lawyer to lodge review of army report
Lawyers representing the family of Collins Khosa, who was allegedly killed by soldiers, will lodge a review of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) report that cleared troops of any wrongdoing.
The SANDF board of inquiry found that the confrontation between Khosa, 40, his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango and soldiers in Alexandra on April 10 had not led to his death when considering the postmortem report, and therefore the officers involved and the state were not liable for his death.
The postmortem, performed by a junior pathologist who worked unsupervised, revealed the cause of death was blunt force head injury. The board said after their investigations and based on some contradictions, they concluded Khosa was conscious and healthy when the security forces left.
Commenting on the postmortem report, a neurologist consulted by the board, Prof M Baker, raised concerns about a junior pathologist assigned to such “a sensitive case”, and pointed to contradictions in the report.
The report also found the soldiers involved were initially not trained for the mission before they were deployed, and subsequently received training eight days before the Khosa incident.
The report was signed off and approved by the SANDF chief of joint operations, Lt-Gen Rudzani Maphwanya.
Khosa's family lawyer, Wikus Steyl, said they don't accept the report.
“There are numerous statements that are contradicting each other. We plan to apply for a review on this matter, but we will wait for two reports from the department of defence and the police on their internal investigations. These two reports will come out in mid-June,” Steyl said.
Khosa's brother, Laster, was in disbelief when Sowetan contacted him yesterday. He said the family was not aware of the SANDF's report.
“I haven't heard anything about the exoneration of the soldiers for killing my brother. We will wait for our lawyers to inform us, and then we will discuss the way forward as a family,” he said.
Speaking about the report, defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there are various entities within SANDF collaborating in conducting investigations related to the matter.
“Any suggestions that the soldiers, if there are any soldiers, implicated in the murder of the gentleman [Khosa] is a matter which I do not want to comment on as it is still under investigation, and in terms of the court it is a sub judice matter,” she said.
The minister welcomed the ruling by the court to suspend those who are allegedly implicated in the murder of Khosa.
Mapisa-Nqakula said they also welcomed the issuing of directives on how law enforcement agencies should conduct their work.
“I would rather not comment on anything else which relates to whether or not this is a murder case until such time that all investigations have been concluded.”
The SA National Defence Force Union (Sandu) has accused the defence department of divorcing itself from the members to escape responsibility.
Sandu secretary Pikkie Greeff said: “If the soldiers were cleared, why are they still placed on special leave? If the soldiers were cleared, why are they still being investigated?
“We are consulting the legal team on this issue as we are not satisfied with how the investigation was done. There are issues the department did not deal with. We are also considering joining as friends of the court on this matter,” Greeff said.
On May 15, the high court in Pretoria ordered that pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings, all SANDF members who were present at or adjacent to 3885 Moeketsi Street, Far East Bank, Alexandra, on April 10, be placed on precautionary suspension on full pay.
When asked if the soldiers were going to return to work, SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the court was very clear on that issue.
Dlamini refused to comment further, saying the police investigation was ongoing.
In an affidavit in the high court, Khosa's wife, Nomsa Montsha, said it was about 5pm when the incident happened. She said she was at home with Khosa, his brother-in-law Muvhango and his pregnant wife, Yvonny, when two uniformed female soldiers entered their home carrying sjamboks.
She said Khosa was eating. There were also two children in the house, and the soldiers accused them of violating the lockdown regulations.
“They inquired about the camping chair and half-full cup of alcohol in the yard. Khosa informed them that even if he had been drinking, that would not be an offence as it was inside his yard. The SANDF members did not take kindly to Khosa's response, and they were agitated by his response,” Monthsa said.
Military ombudsman spokesperson Ntombikayise Mdluli-Jacha said they received a complaint after the incident happened, but had to allow the court process to take place.
Mduli-Jacha didn't respond to additional questions.