The Democratic Alliance (DA) has condemned videos that have surfaced on social media showing SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members allegedly abusing members of the public.
In a statement on Monday, DA’s shadow minister of defence and military veterans Kobus Marais said the videos show SANDF members forcing people to do squats and push-ups.
He said, “There are also videos emerging of SANDF members physically abusing people who allegedly did not abide by the regulations. This behaviour is disgusting and the DA condemns it in the strongest terms.”
‘Military Ombudsman to investigate’
President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed SANDF members to assist the SA Police Service (SAPS) to enforce the 21-day nationwide lockdown that started last week. The lockdown is aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Its regulations prohibit people from leaving their homes “unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving or chronic medical attention.”
Marais said the DA had written to the Military Ombudsman, General (Ret) Vusi Masondo, “to request an independent investigation as the SANDF’s actions are a gross violation of the military’s mandate and of the Bill of Rights.”
“I also engaged the acting Chief of the Army, Major General M.J. De Goede, who confirmed that the matter had been registered for investigation,” he added.
Yusuf Abramjee shares videos
Social cohesion advocate Yusuf Abramjee shared several videos of the incidents on Twitter on Monday.
While noting that the videos are unverified, he said, “No emergency or disaster regulations allow for this!”
In his statement, Marais also said, “While we agree that those who do not comply with the lockdown regulations should face the consequences for their actions, in accordance to the lockdown regulations, we condemn any act which seeks to humiliate and degrade citizens.
“South Africa is a constitutional democracy, not a military state. Despite the country being in an unprecedented period in our democratic history; the rule of law, the Bill of Rights and our Constitution must be adhered to at all times.”
In an interview with Power FM on Monday, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula condemned the videos.
She said, “I’m calling on the security services to restrain themselves. They should refrain from abusing our people. Equally, society must not abuse security services.”