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SAHRC calls on state to uphold human rights during lockdown operations

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has received harsh criticism that some of its members have been heavy-handed in various communities during the lockdown.

An SANDF soldier at a roadblock in Woodstock, Cape Town on 27 March 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has on Wednesday called on the state to uphold and respect human rights during lockdown operations.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has received harsh criticism that some of its members have been heavy-handed in various communities during the lockdown.

This follows the death of a 40-year-old man in Alex, allegedly beaten to death by soldiers.

WATCH: SANDF in Alex: We're not here to kill anyone

The SAHRC has called on senior leadership within the South African Police Service and SANDF to take meaningful steps to stop the excessive use of force by some of their members.

The SAHRC's Chris Nissen said: “We did receive a number of calls, we’re busy collating it so that we have at least some indication of a number of cases.”

About two weeks ago, Nissen visited an Eerste River family after claimed they were assaulted and harassed by soldiers conducting a lockdown operation.

Tersia Pedro told Eyewitness News SANDF members stormed their home and badly assaulted her daughter and husband who even had a gun shoved in his mouth.

“We took a statement, two of our senior legal officers are investigating this matter - not only the physical involvement - I mean as it is alleged the gun was put inside the mouth of the father and the children were traumatised. When I was there, they even had furniture against the door. So, there is also a dignity issue,” Nissen said.

He said the commission had been engaging with law enforcement agencies to discuss reports of heavy-handedness during lockdown operations.