Ipid recommends disciplinary action against police who watched Khosa beating

An Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) report has recommended disciplinary action against metro police who stood by watching while Collins Khosa was being assaulted by soldiers.  

Khosa died after the assaults, which according to family members were brutal and included being throttled with a hand held behind his back, being slammed against a steel gate and being hit with the butt of a machine gun. In court papers, his family said his death was the result of the assault. He is one of 11 people who allegedly died at the hands of security forces during the Covid-19 lockdown.

An internal South African National Defence Force (SANDF) board of inquiry exonerated the soldiers implicated. Now the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) members present have been found by Ipid not to have participated in the assault. However, they breached their legal obligations, the report found.

These included that they should perform their functions diligently and to the best of their ability, conduct themselves with honesty and “refrain from any rude, abusive, provocative, intimidatory or aggressive behaviour”.  

“Based on the information available, Ipid recommend[s] disciplinary steps to be taken against JMPD members for the neglect of their legal obligations,” said the report. The report does not recommend what kind of disciplinary action should be taken.

Unlike the SANDF board of inquiry, Ipid interviewed the witnesses and family members who had been present. In summarising each interview, the report says that witnesses spoke of the JMPD officers as “watching”, or that they could not see whether JMPD officers were involved. 

The report quoted Thabiso Muvhango, Khosa’s brother-in-law who was also assaulted, as saying, “When he approached the JMPD officers … the JMPD officers said he must not argue with the members of the SANDF. The members of the SANDF then assaulted him again, now in the full view of the JMPD officers.” 

The Ipid report was filed in the Pretoria high court after Judge Hans Fabricius ordered that internal investigations into Khosa’s death and other cases of abuse of power by the security forces must be finalised by June 4 and a report-back delivered to court. 

After a public outcry when the SANDF board of inquiry cleared the soldiers implicated, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement that she has also asked the Military Ombud to investigate. This came after a week of public statements — to the media and to Parliament — that the internal investigation was not complete. A South African Police Service criminal investigation is also under way. 

Read the report below:

Ipid Report June 2020 by Mail and Guardian on Scribd

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Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

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