Soldiers told to stop using excessive force

JOHANNESBURG - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says a message has been sent to the army to refrain from using excessive force.

She says at the same time there are instances where South Africans have been provocative.

READ: Public warned not to taunt SANDF

This as the army continues to be on the ground in support of the South African police service.

Social media has been flooded with videos showing soldiers and police using excessive force on members of the public.

In some of the videos, people are hit and kicked. In others, they're forced to do grass hops and roll in mud, allegedly for contravening the lockdown.

READ: Ramaphosa wishes SAPS, SANDF members well before lockdown

Soldiers are enforcing the lockdown imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

These tough rules were put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Human Rights Watch's director for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga called for an independent probe into the alleged military brutality.  

"It is important that there be an independent investigation into reported incidents with appropriate punishment to the soldiers who committed the abuses," he told AFP. 

READ: SANDF call on reserve force to assist COVID-19 fight

Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty International in South Africa said "while it is urgent and important to ensure that people adhere to the lockdown, simply resorting to force will hardly achieve anything".

"Hurting or causing injury by using force will only place more strain on the already overburdened medical services". 

- Additional reporting AFP

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