Just around 700 people have died of the COVID-19 virus in South Africa. These deaths have not been the only casualties. With the deployment of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defense Force (SANDF) during the lockdown, many have reportedly fallen victim to state sanctioned violence. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) confirmed that 10 deaths occurred due to police action, during the lockdown.
Collins Khosa from Alexandra, Johannesburg died on Easter Friday during a clash with members of the SANDF and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD). In papers filed with the court, his family said he was severely assaulted by the members of the SANDF and JMPD. The police investigation into his death is still ongoing. The High Court compelled authorities to prevent police and army brutality during the enforcement of the lockdown after an urgent application by Khosa’s family. On Friday, May 27, a SANDF inquiry cleared the soldiers of his death.
One of the first casualties of the lockdown was Sibusiso Amos. Amos was fatally shot on the veranda of his home in Vosloorus. Amos’s death took place just days after the lockdown began on Sunday, March 29. An Ekurhuleni JMPD officer and a man thought to be a security guard were arrested the following Monday. Four children, aged between five and 11 years present during the shooting had to be taken to the hospital.
Petrus Miggels from Ravensmead died on the first day of lockdown. On the day he died, he went to the tavern to buy alcohol with money given to him by a neighbour. He was met with the police, eyewitness reports said, who assaulted him and carried him away in their van. He was later dropped off at his house where he died within the hour. The Ipid later said their investigation found that Miggels “dropped dead”.
Adane Emmanuel died in mid-April following a clash between him, his brother and the police at the Dakota informal settlement in Isipingo. He was accused of selling cigarettes and after being assaulted by the police, Emmanuel was taken to the police station. He was later released on bail but died in hospital. His family members said they’re disappointed and not surprised that the police had not even contacted them.
Elma Robyn Montsumi
Elma Robyn Montsumi, a sex worker and Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) service user was arrested on April 9. The charge was the possession of drugs. On the Sunday after her arrest, Montsumi’s friends and family were told that she had hanged herself. SWEAT, Sisonke, the National Movement of Sex Workers and Triangle Project have called for an investigation into Montsumi’s death.
Ntando Elias Sigasa
Twenty-three year old Ntando Elias Sigasa died in his sleep in April 2020. His death is reportedly due to a police beating. Ipid said the Sigasa was reportedly assaulted by police officers in Naledi township in Soweto. His family said he died as a result of the assault. No arrests were made in Sigasa’s case.
These are the cases that have been reported on to the police and media.