A South African newspaper reports that hundreds of members of the National Defense Force are being accused of assaulting, torturing and even killing civilians.
VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the alleged crimes.
“It appears primarily to be criminal activity, rather than organized activity. I think it’s just people in the military, who are ‘very bad pennies,’ some of them. And the investigation was done by The Star newspaper. And I think that investigation flowed from annual reports, which are issued by the defense force relating to their activities, relating to problems within the defense force, also budget issues and so on. So The Star did an investigation and found nearly 400 cases I believe of criminal activity, some of it extremely serious by members of the South African National Defense Force,” she says.
Robertson says that police, not the National Defense Force, will investigate these allegations. She says, “Military courts are used for offenses that are committed while a person is serving and carrying out their duties.” As for the alleged victims, she says, “Many of them have filed claims against the South African National Defense Force to the value of nearly one billion South African rand, which is about $200 million, a little bit less than that.”
Some of the allegations go back to early 2005. “There have been reports in the past of criminal activity by South African soldiers, but there hasn’t been an investigation done compiling a full list of cases.