Collins Khosa's family lawyer to lodge review of army report

Lawyers representing the family of Collins Khosa, who was killed allegedly 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, done 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 that Khosa was conscious and healthy when the security forces left.

Commenting on the postmortem report, a neurologist consulted by the board, Prof Baker, raised concerns about a junior pathologist assigned to such "a sensitive case" and pointed to contradictions in the report.

The report also found that 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 on applying for a review on this matter, but we will wait for two reports from the department of defence and the South African Police Service on their internal investigations. These two reports will come out in mid-June," Steyl said.

Khosa's brother Laster Khosa 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 from killing my brother. We will wait for our lawyers to inform us and then we will discuss as a family on the way forward," he said.

Speaking about the report, minister of defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there are various entities within SANDF who are collaborating in conducting investigation related to this 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 is a sub judice matter," she said.

The minister also welcomed the ruling by the court to suspend those who are supposedly 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 to anything else which relates to whether this is a murder case or not until such time that all investigations have been concluded."

The South African National Defence Union has accused the department of defence of divorcing itself from the members to escape responsibility.

National 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 with the legal team on this issue as we are not satisfied with how the investigation was done. There are variety of issues that the department did not deal with. We are also considering joining as the 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 on-going.

In an affidavit in the high court, Khosa's wife Nomsa Montsha said it was at about 5pm when the incident happened and 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 they 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," she stated.

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 at the time of going to print.

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