WATCH | SANDF denies existence of 'torture squad'
The chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Gen Rudzani Maphwanya, has denied the existence of a “so-called torture squad” in the SANDF.
“There are no military squads in SANDF that exist to carry out acts of torture and murder for whatever reasons. The SANDF stands for the defence and the protection of the people and will always act within the confines of the law and the constitution,” he told a media briefing on Thursday.
NGO Open Secrets recently produced a report implicating at least four units of the SANDF in crimes dating to 2019. It said these are the elite special forces brigade, the military police, defence intelligence and defence legal services.
Among issues raised by the organisation are:
- the disappearance of alleged Islamic State financier Abdella Abadiga and his bodyguard a year ago from the Mall of Africa;
- the alleged presence of the military at the docking of the Lady R in Simon's Town;
- the murder of police investigator Lt-Col Frans Mathipa of the Hawks in August; and
- the theft of rifles in 2019 from the strongroom safe at the army engineer formation base south of Pretoria, which it suspects was an inside job.
Maphwanya said the SANDF views the allegations seriously as these “fabrications” have the potential to damage the image and reputation of the force.
The investigators should have contacted law enforcement agencies.
“It is important to note that all matters raised in these reports are serious and one would have expected that those who have such information, together with their sources, have an obligation to report such crime to law enforcement authorities. There are a number of avenues where crimes can be reported,” Maphwanya said.
“It is concerning that with all that has been presented to the public, the law still was not approached and there are no formal charges opened against any of the mentioned people or organisations. The law states that failure to report a crime is also an offence. It is also concerning that media and Open Secrets chose to withhold the information that can assist law enforcement agencies to investigate and decided to publish it, for whatever reason.”
Maphwanya said this could be equated to an act of defeating the ends of justice.
“We can state clearly, without ambiguity, that the SANDF operates in a constitutional and democratic state where government institutions operate and adhere to democratic principles of the state. Therefore, as any other department, the SANDF can be scrutinised for anything that might seem to be against the constitution and the bill of rights, and that must be done within the framework of openness and transparency,” he said.
The case of stolen rifles and pistols, which were recovered, will be in court soon, he said.
The Mall of Africa case was under investigation and before a court, he added, and thus the defence force could not comment on the matter.
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