Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A puzzling claim

The South African National Defence Force has recently conducted a court-martial of 16 members in connection with an assault on a Congolese national. What's puzzling is this part of the iAfrica account:
The trial has been views as historic and ground-breaking trial because this is the first time, the Prevention of Combating and Torture of Persons Act has been used to charge 16 of its members.

They were deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) of Operation Mistral.

The SANDF said although they were not convicted in terms of the act, the case paved the way for the use of the act in the future.
How's that again?
“Of the original 16 accused, 11 were convicted. Five of the accused were acquitted. Even though no accused were convicted of contravening the provisions of the Prevention of Combating and Torture of Persons Act, they were found guilty of common law assault. This case cleared the way for the future application of the act,” [SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi] added.
How so? Were the accuseds acquitted of charges laid under the torture act? If so, how does that "clear the way"?

1 comment:

  1. Regardless of all criticism, the SADF is to be commended for having convened a court-martial, and to have done so forward where the accuseds' unit is deployed and the affected community could see it. Too often in UN Peacekeeping Operations are sending-state troops not held accountable for crimes against host-state persons. That said, this case is puzzling also in that, having first convened on-site in the DRC presumably to take testimony from victims and other witnesses, the court then adjourned and reconvened 'at home' in the RSA to finish, including presentation of the defense's case. (At least this is what I glean from Defenceweb's reporting.) This begs the question whether the victims were represented and had the opportunity to confront defense witnesses; albeit this may not currently be a right under SADF court-martial procedure.


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