17 May 2020
“This is not a moment for skop and donner. This is not a moment for skiet and donner. This is a moment to be supportive to our people. I, therefore, order you to go out and execute this mission with great success. Thank you very much.”
This was a clarion call from the nation’s Commander-in-Chief Cyril Ramaphosa from the Doornkop Army base in Soweto, an evening before the commencement of the lockdown.
Many knew then that regardless of his appeal, the hotheads in the army are raring to show off their rage and ill-discipline. True to form, it wasn’t long when newspapers, television screens and social media were abuzz with both police and army officials dishing up abuse, showing the middle finger to their commander-in-chief.
Not only did members of the army go out to skop and donner – they beat to death Collins Khosa at his home in Alexandra, Johannesburg, according to his family and their lawyers.
On Friday, judge Hans Fabricius, agreeing with the Khosa family lawyers, ordered the state to suspend members of the army who were present at the scene when Khosa was murdered. It is a shame – is it not?
That Khosa lost his life at the hands of security officials who were supposed to ensure high discipline, not harassment, torture and lawlessness. It is shameful that those given to violence did not even think twice about what Ramaphosa said about being “supportive to our people” as we confront the faceless enemy.
It is also a shame that after his killing, government has had to be forced by a court to suspend Khosa’s potential killers. For a government that cares about citizens and, to use Ramaphosa’s call, ought to be “supportive of our people”, would, all things equal, not protect potential killers of Khosa from overdue suspension.
Such a government would be an active partner in trying to find justice for the Khosa family.