The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief, General Rudzani Maphwanya, yesterday not only denied the existence of military death squads, but threw the glove down for those “with evidence”. “There are no military squads in the SANDF that exist to carry out acts of torture and murder for whatever reasons. “The SANDF stands for the defence and the protection of the people and will always act within the confines of the law and the constitution,” he said. “All matters raised in those reports were serious and those who have such information, together with their sources, must report such crime…
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief, General Rudzani Maphwanya, yesterday not only denied the existence of military death squads, but threw the glove down for those “with evidence”.
“There are no military squads in the SANDF that exist to carry out acts of torture and murder for whatever reasons.
“The SANDF stands for the defence and the protection of the people and will always act within the confines of the law and the constitution,” he said.
“All matters raised in those reports were serious and those who have such information, together with their sources, must report such crime to law enforcement and authorities.”
No comment on the disappearance of alleged IS financier Abdella Abadiga and his bodyguard
Maphwanya said he could not comment on the disappearance of alleged Islamic State (IS) financier Abdella Abadiga and his bodyguard a year ago from the Mall of Africa because the matter was being investigated by the Hawks, police and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
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Last week, the nonprofit organisation OpenSecrets published two reports, alleging it had uncovered acts of torture, kidnapping and murder that were carried out by SANDF members dating back to 2019.
It implicated four units in the force: the Special Forces Brigade, military police, defence intelligence and defence legal services.
Other allegations touched on the alleged presence of the military at the docking of Russia’s Lady R in Simon’s Town; the murder of police investigator Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Mathipa of the Hawks in August; and the theft of rifles in 2019 from the strongroom at the army engineer information base south of Pretoria. That was suspected to be an inside job.
Yesterday, OpenSecrets announced it had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as commander-in-chief, as well as the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, calling for an investigation into extrajudicial murders and killings within the South African military.
OpenSecrets also submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act application in November, to request the SANDF to release the Moorhouse board of inquiry report into the abuse of power in the military.
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Inquiry investigated complaints of alleged criminal activity within the military
The inquiry, headed by Brigadier-General John Moorhouse, investigated complaints of alleged criminal activity within the military. Its report is yet to be made public.
AfriForum’s private prosecutions unit spokesperson, Barry Bateman, said the body wrote to the SANDF chief a month ago, urging him to perform his duty and act on the Moorhouse inquiry’s recommendations.
“We heard today that the general is applying his mind to the findings and recommendations of the report.
“Sadly, we have become accustomed to people who say they’re applying their mind to a report to mean that they are actually doing nothing in the hope that the matter will go away,” he said.
Bateman said AfriForum’s unit will not allow this matter to go away.
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“As indicated in our letter, if the chief of the SANDF fails to perform his duty we will not hesitate to approach the courts to compel him to act,” he said.
‘If allegations were true, it would be highly disconcerting’
A criminologist, Prof Jaco Barkhuizen, said if these allegations were true and there was enough evidence to prove it, it would be highly disconcerting.
It was extremely dangerous in a constitutional democracy to have such units in the national defence force, he said.
“To have them in the national defence force would put us in violation of our own military codes of conduct and also international law,” he said.
There had to be an inquest and those found to be responsible, from the generals to the foot soldiers, should be prosecuted, Barkhuizen said.
“South Africa has a role in international peacekeeping and having such potential things happening in our SANDF would make the country the laughing stock of the world,” he said.
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