The family of 40-year-old Collins Khosa, who was allegedly beaten to death by members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) earlier this month, will have to approach the high courts, after the Constitutional Court dismissed their direct access application.
Attorney for the Khosa family, Wikus Steyl, confirmed the application for direct access to the Constitutional Court was dismissed due to insufficient grounds.
He added that the court did not deal with the merits of their application, but only addressed the matter of direct access.
The Khosa family will now approach the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on an urgent basis, in a bid to force the government to intervene and rein in law enforcement’s alleged heavy-handedness during the lockdown.
“This case is about civilians being murdered, tortured and subjected to other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment during the nationwide lockdown,” court papers read.
According to the papers, Khosa’s wife (who is unnamed) explained that, on the day her husband died, he was approached by SANDF members while at home having supper with his family in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
The soldiers asked about half a glass of alcohol on the dinner table. Khosa responded by telling the soldiers that he was allowed to drink in his home.
Khosa and his brother were then allegedly forced into the street with the alcohol.
More soldiers and armed police officers arrived at the scene and allegedly assaulted Khosa by holding his hands behind his back while he was choked, beaten, slammed up against the wall and hit with the butt of a machine gun.
It is further alleged that Khosa’s family, including his wife, were also assaulted.
After the incident, Khosa’s wife said she laid him on their bed and held his hand – but, not long after, she noticed he had stopped moving.
When the ambulance arrived, he was already dead.
The Khosa family took the decision to approach the courts to ask for the disarmament of law enforcement officials present during Khosa’s assault.
They also want law enforcement to adhere to the prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment, and that they be warned of attempts to cover up or failure to report such inhumane acts.
Steyl said there were fundamental gaps in the codes of conduct and accountability mechanisms. He added that it was not clear what the SANDF and police officers could do, and how they were allowed to enforce the lockdown regulations.
“We are forcing the government’s hand to put in place those rules, so that, if those rules are promulgated today, then from tomorrow our security forces will know how to conduct themselves and what they are allowed to do to enforce a lockdown,” Steyl said.
“We want to hold the government accountable as the deployment of the SANDF and the police has been done without a code of conduct. There are no clear rules – their commanders tell them it’s ‘skop, skiet en donner – do whatever you want’,” Steyl added.