Adriaan Basson | If all black lives matter to the ANC, what about Collins Khosa's death?

A group of people protest at Zoo Lake, Johannesburg, in solidarity with those protesting the death of George Floyd in America. (Photo by Gallo Images/ER Lombard)
A group of people protest at Zoo Lake, Johannesburg, in solidarity with those protesting the death of George Floyd in America. (Photo by Gallo Images/ER Lombard)
  • The man from Alexandra, who died a brutal death after being assaulted by soldiers, has become South Africa's George Floyd.
  • The SANDF has cleared the soldiers involved in his assault, but didn't interview Khosa's widow.
  • In her affidavit before court, his widow details how the soldiers poured beer over his body before viciously kicking, hitting and choking Khosa.

On the same day the ANC, South Africa's governing party, launched its Black Friday campaign against racism and state brutality, the defence minister added insult to the injury of the family of 40-year-old Collins Khosa.

Being one of eleven people who have allegedly died at the hands of police officers or soldiers during South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown, Khosa has become the local equivalent of George Floyd to rally the cry that black lives matter (BLM).

Predictably, the ANC's Black Friday campaign was met with anger and disbelief from South Africans who correctly asked the governing party whether it shouldn't clean its own house first.

The ANC's identity crisis of being a governing party versus a liberation movement isn't new. It is also not out of place for the ANC, a party with a proud history of fighting for the liberation of black people, to come out in support of the BLM movement.

But the timing couldn't have been worse.

The government the ANC leads has failed in its attempt to lock down South Africans for an extended period while it prepares our health system to cope with the surge in coronavirus patients. When I look around me and listen to what is happening in other parts of the country, the lockdown is all but over.

It is time for the government to admit this as it continues its successful campaign to change the social behaviour of the majority of South Africans – washing hands, wearing a mask and physical distancing.

As the government gears up for another round of court challenges to the "irrational" lockdown regulations, Khosa's name and case looms large over the legitimacy of this entire episode.

Collins Khosa was allegedly beaten to death by sol
Collins Khosa was allegedly beaten to death by soldiers in Alexandra, Johannesburg, during the Covid-19 lockdown. His family has gone to court to ask for a specialised unit to investigate abuses by police and soldiers during the state of disaster. (PHOTO: Supplied via GroundUp)

His name will reverberate loudly when the history books of the great lockdown of 2020 are written – and when the ANC calls on the country to honour Black Friday.

As the police investigation into Khosa's death continues, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her colleagues in the South African National Defence Force are not helping the ANC's cause to show that all black lives matter.

After informing the court that an SANDF investigation had "cleared" the soldiers involved, Mapisa-Nqakula informed Parliament that it was not the case and that the investigation wasn't over, only to do a U-turn on Friday by issuing a statement that confirmed the SANDF's internal investigation was finalised.

The learned legal officers of the SANDF found that Khosa's death had nothing to do with his altercation with soldiers on Good Friday. The SANDF did not interview Nomsa Montsha, Khosa's wife, or any of his friends or family members who had witnessed his brutal assault.

This is what Montsha would have told them, as she did under oath in the Gauteng High Court in her successful application to seek justice for her slain partner.

Nomsa Montsha's affidavit

"During the lockdown on Good Friday, 10 April 2020, at about 17:00, I was at home with Mr Khosa, Mr Muvhango and his wife, Mrs Yvonny Muvhango, when two uniformed female members of the SANDF entered our home carrying sjamboks (whips).

"Before entering the house, the said members met with Mr Muvhango just outside the house but inside the yard. The two members of the SANDF asked him about an unattended camping chair and half-full cup of alcohol in the yard. Before he could answer, they ordered him inside the house and announced that they would confiscate any alcohol in the house.

"When the two SANDF members came inside, I had just finished dishing up dinner for Mr Khosa, who was by then busy eating. Mr Muvhango's pregnant wife was also inside the house with her two children.

"The two SANDF members accused Mr Khosa and Mr Muvhango of violating the lockdown regulations. They inquired about the camping chair and half-full cup of alcohol in the yard. Mr 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 Mr Khosa's response and they were agitated by his response.

It is at that point that the SANDF proceeded to raid the house. They confiscated one beer from Mr Muvhango's fridge and then one beer from Mr Khosa's fridge. They ordered Mr Khosa and Mr Muvhango to follow them outside to the street as they wanted to "prove a point" to them.

"On their way out, a member of the SANDF damaged Mr Khosa's car, which was parked inside the yard, by smashing the metal gate against [it]. Mr Khosa protested this act of vandalism. This further agitated the members of the SANDF.

"Mrs Yvonny Muvhango and I followed them outside. I asked the SANDF members why they took the alcohol outside the yard creating an impression that Mr Khosa and Mr Muvhango violated the regulations by drinking outside the yard. This question was also repeated by Mr Muvhango and Mr Khosa. We did not receive any response.

"Mr Khosa and Mr Muvhango were made to stand outside the yard with the two beers on the ground, while members of the SANDF wailed for back-up. Shortly, a number of vehicles arrived from both the SANDF and the JMPD [Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department] with armed personnel.

"At this stage, about three further SANDF members approached the scene and were "briefed" about the incident by the two SANDF members who had entered our home. Without making any enquiries of Mr Khosa or anybody else, these three SANDF members manhandled and assaulted Mr Khosa in the following manner:

  • they poured beer on top of this head and on his body;
  • one member of the SANDF held his hands behind his back, while the other choked him;
  • they slammed him against the cement wall;
  • they hit him with the butt of a machine gun;
  • they kicked, slapped and punched him on his face, stomach and ribs, and
  • they slammed him against the steel gate.

"During the entire incident, I kept shouting that they must stop hurting Mr Khosa as they were going to kill him. My plea was ignored.

"During this time, Mr Muvhango was also manhandled by a member of the SANDF and beer was also poured all over his body.

"While Mr Khosa was being brutalised, two female SANDF members approached me and Mrs Muvhango. Mr Muvhango shouted that these SANDF members should not touch his wife as she is pregnant.

"As they approached me, I ran inside the house and closed the door, the SANDF members came after me and kicked the door open. They ordered me to come outside, and one member started whipping me with a sjambok over my body and my face. I was in a state of shock as I was being whipped. I could not defend myself from the SANDF nor could I run away.

"The incident was witnessed by some members of the Alexandra community. In addition, part of the above incident was caught on cellphone video which was circulated on the news and social media.

"Regrettably, some of the witnesses whom we consulted with, informed me that, while they recorded the incident on their cellphones, their phones were taken by the SANDF and the video recordings were deleted. These potential eyewitnesses were also threatened with violence by the SANDF and they have been afraid to assist us in the investigation of the matter.

After the SANDF and JMPD members left, I took Mr Khosa inside our house. He later started vomiting, losing his speech and consciousness, and progressively, he lost his ability to walk. I rested him on the bed. I sat on the side of the bed trying to comfort him. However, about three hours after the SANDF members had left, while holding my hand, I noticed that he was not moving.

"I quickly called Mr Muvhango and his wife who then called Emergency Services. Upon their arrival, the Emergency Services declared Mr Khosa dead on arrival.

"Medical advice received suggested blunt force trauma to Mr Khosa's head and torso, which could have severally damaged his internal organs, including his brain. Consistent with this advice, the death notice described cause of death as a blunt force head injury.

"The manner in which Mr Khosa was killed has left me, his children, his mother, his sister, and his brother-in-law in a state of absolute shock and trauma. We are emotionally obliterated and have lost complete faith in the security forces, and the SANDF in particular."

As the ANC kicks off its Black Friday campaign, the governing party should ask its defence minister if she believes black lives mattered when her generals in the SANDF signed off their whitewashed report into the brutal death of Collins Khosa.

 - Adriaan Basson is editor-in-chief of News24

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