Minister Mapisa-Nqakula out of touch with reality

Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Image: GCIS

Whether incompetent or misled, the manner in which the defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has so far handled the investigation into the killing of Alexandra man Collins Khosa boggles the mind.

Two weeks ago, Mapisa-Nqakula expressed shock that an internal South African National Defence Force (SANDF) investigation report which acquitted soldiers involved in the violent altercation with Khosa had been published in the media.

The report formed part of the SANDF's legal documents filed in court, therefore formed part of public record.

Last week, Mapisa-Nqakula told a parliamentary oversight committee that as far as she was concerned, there was no report acquitting soldiers of wrongdoing because investigations are still continuing.

When challenged by the Khosa family lawyers on that claim, she doubled down and in a press statement on Friday and said she was in fact "not correct" that investigation into the matter was ongoing.

"The board of inquiry was not convened by the minister and does not report to her and thus what was confirmed to the court is that the defence force completed its internal investigation within the stipulated time frames as per the court's order," the press statement said.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she had asked the military ombud to conduct further investigations into the matter.

This and the fact that there was an ongoing probe by the police meant that the SANDF report was not the final word on the Khosa matter.

Granted, it is not.

However, the minister's handling of the matter demonstrates that she was out of touch with reality and may have in fact misled the nation on key developments of a case that has captured the imagination of ordinary South Africans.

It means she was far removed from the pain of the Khosa family and many others who have been victimised by soldiers acting at the behest of the state.

More importantly, it means she lacked insight into what Khosa's murder symbolised in a democratic country supposedly build on a social pact against human rights abuses.

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