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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

SANDF dismisses claims of mineral interests in DR Congo deployment

The DRC is said to have untapped gold, cobalt and high-grade copper reserves.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has dismissed claims that South Africa’s insistence on deploying soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is commercially motivated.

Earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed at least 2 900 SANDF soldiers to provide support in combating illicit armed factions in eastern DRC.

ALSO READ: Uproar over SANDF deaths in DRC

He said the deployment was to fulfil the country’s obligation towards the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to the DRC.

Last week, two soldiers lost their lives in the region, while three more sustained severe injuries after a mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African Contingent’s military bases.

The remains of the two soldiers have been repatriated.

The deployment of the soldiers has been highly criticised by different sectors of society, as some question if they are equipped to engage in such a mission against fully-armed M23 rebels in the region.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa says SANDF has ‘military hardware’ for operations in DRC

Responding to the criticism, Ramaphosa said the SANDF was equipped with the necessary “military hardware” for such missions.

The deployment of soldiers has now been linked to the minerals in the region.

The DRC is said to have untapped gold, cobalt and high-grade copper reserves.

“The SANDF wishes to state categorically that the claims are far from the truth and thumb suck by those who are bent on besmirching the good name of the SANDF, in particular the government of South Africa. We reject the article in its entirety as hogwash with the contempt it deserves. The article has no credibility and is not worth the paper it is written,” said the SANDF.

“It is common knowledge that the SANDF is in the DRC as part of the SADC Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC), after a decision taken at the 43rd SADC Summit in Angola in 2023. Any information related to the summit decision is available to any honest and interested party.

ALSO READ: Dialogue needed on SANDF’s capabilities in DRC – analysts

“The mission is being undertaken by the SADC troop contributing countries together with the DRC military to help bring about sustainable peace and stability in the eastern DRC. South Africa remains a significant actor and a major contributor to Peace Missions on the Continent and elsewhere in the world.”

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