Two operational documents used by the state to deploy an initial 2 820 members of the SANDF in March and more than 73 000 members in April to enforce government’s lockdown failed to unpack the amount of force to be used when dealing with a civilian population.

While minimal coaching appears to have been given to SANDF officers, it is unclear if any teaching on how to use minimum force to deal with citizens was given to their counterparts, the SAPS.

A City Press report says these were the damning arguments heard by the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) yesterday by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, acting for the family of Alexandra township resident Collins Khosa, who allegedly died at the hands of the SANDF and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers.

Ngcukaitobi argued that this limited and/or non-existent education led to the death of Khosa and other crimes committed by SANDF and police officers.

The advocate leaned on section 199(5) of the Constitution while making his submissions. This section states that it is the direct constitutional obligation of Ministers in the security cluster ‘to teach and require their members to act in accordance with the Constitution and the law’.

‘There is therefore nothing inventive in what the applicants are seeking. What they actually seek to do is to simply enforce section 199(5) of the Constitution,’ said Ngcukaitobi.

He argued that the state and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula – in an operational document dated 30 March used when deploying SANDF officers, as well as another one page document – failed to comply with the dictates in section 199(5) of the Constitution.

‘It’s plainly inadequate for the Minister to think these letters (were) sufficient and consider herself having taught and charged her officers to uphold the constitutional rights of citizens,’ argued Ngcukaitobi.

He added the only mention of citizens’ constitutional rights was at the bottom of the initial letter and on paragraph two of the one page operational letters.

Ngcukaitobi read through the initial operational document.

Some of the directives given to the SANDF officials included being told to ‘engage in battle without drinking and smoking’, while also being urged to channel non-complying members through allowing ‘harsh measures of the law to apply’.

More shocking, says City Press, were the words ‘find and fix and neutralise non-compliance’, as well as being warned in advance that residents in Alexandra were ‘supporting illicit activities’.

‘The language that is used in the very same document that the Minister of Defence is saying aligns with the Constitution virtually accuses every person they see in Alex as a non-compiler. This is what the Minister says is her attempt at complying with section 199(5) of the Constitution,’ he said.

Ngcukaitobi added that: ‘What’s clear is that the operational document that they put up is entirely consistent with the attitude adopted by the Minister that we will skop, skiet en donder when the circumstances determine’.

Full City Press report