South Africa human rights situation deteriorates as soldiers shoots civilians over face mask

Cyril Ramaphosa

A soldier allegedly shot a man during an argument over why the man was not wearing a face mask in line with Covid-19 regulations.

The incident happened at a shopping complex in Mogwadi, Limpopo, on Thursday, said police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo.

“Members of the national defence force were reportedly on duty monitoring Covid-19 compliance in the area when they approached a group of people who were not wearing face masks,” Mojapelo said on Friday.

“When asked why they were not wearing masks, an argument allegedly ensued and one of the soldiers shot the victim. The injured 27-year-old man was rushed to hospital.

“The soldier, aged 29, was arrested and charged with attempted murder,” said Mojapelo.

The army said a shot went off during a scuffle.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesperson Capt Jaco Theunissen told TimesLIVE the shooting could have been accidental.

“The soldiers were enforcing lockdown regulations together with the police when they approached people who were not wearing masks,” he said.

“A scuffle ensued and they [the members of the public] tried to take a weapon away from the soldier. That is when a shot was discharged and the community member was hit in the thigh.”

Theunissen said the matter was being handled by the police and he could not immediately say what, if any, steps would be taken against the soldier.

The soldier is due to appear in the Morebeng magistrate’s court on Friday.

TimesLIVE