Collins Khosa murder: Military ombud finds that soldiers acted improperly
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers implicated in the death of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa have been found to have acted improperly, irregularly and in contravention of their code of conduct.
Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told parliament on Wednesday that the military ombud, Lt-Gen (Ret) Vusumuzi Masondo, has recommended that appropriate disciplinary measures be taken against the commander of the platoon who was on the ground, and against those who were with the commander.
Masondo found that the official conduct of the implicated soldiers was improper, irregular and in contravention of the code of conduct, operational orders and rules of engagement, revealed Mapisa-Nqakula.
Masondo found that the soldiers, in entering the Khosa residence for the search and seizure of liquor, did so in the absence of the Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD) and the SA Police Service (Saps), who they were meant to be supporting.
“That was outside the scope of the SANDF,” he said.
Mapisa-Nqakula told MPs: “From the evidence, it is concluded that in the process of conducting the search for alcohol, various acts of misconduct were committed by unfortunately the soldiers.”
The minister said she received Masondo's report on the incident earlier this month. It showed that the four implicated soldiers had refused to be interviewed during his investigation. But that didn't stop the ombud, who conducted interviews with several other witnesses, including Khosa's partner, other tenants at the house and neighbours.
“Unfortunately, the four members of the SANDF who have these allegations hanging over them reserved their right to remain silent, having been advised by a lawyer who was representing them,” she said.
“People will say it is understandable that they would do that because there is a criminal investigation which is currently going on, so maybe due to fear of incriminating themselves, perhaps it was correct not to provide answers to the military ombud. That still did not mean the ombud could not make a finding on this case.”
Mapisa-Nqakula emphasised that there was still a criminal investigation being conducted by the police.
The ombud's investigation focussed on the administrative processes and whether the soldiers conducted themselves properly when they entered the premises of the Khosa family.
The ombud does not deal with criminal investigations, but has a responsibility with regards to the behaviour of SANDF members at any particular time, whether the code of conduct and rules were observed.
“I have since written a letter to the chief of the SA National Defence Force [Gen Solly Shoke] to give an instruction that he should comply with the recommendations of the military ombud,” said the minister.
“I have also written a letter to the office of the military ombud to express a word of appreciation but also to commit that we will indeed comply with the recommendations of his report.”
Mapisa-Nqakula was responding to MPs' questions in the National Assembly.
DA MP Sarel Marais had asked the minister whether the implicated SANDF members had been suspended and whether they were earning full salaries while on suspension.
The minister replied that on May 21, following a ruling by the high court in Pretoria, Shoke put the four members on leave, on the instruction of the court, and on full pay, pending the finalisation of the police investigation into the incident that led to Khosa's death.
Khosa, 40, died on April 10, allegedly after an altercation with soldiers and Johannesburg metro police.
His life partner Nomsa Montsha stated in an affidavit that she was at home with him and two others when the soldiers arrived, accusing them of violating lockdown regulations.