The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) honoured fallen peacekeepers who lost their lives serving under the United Nations Peacekeepers mission flag.
The leaders of the SANDF along with family members placed six wreaths in recognition of the sacrifices the soldiers made for peace.
International Peacekeepers Day
‘People, Peace, and Progress’
Under the theme of People, Peace, and Progress: The power of partnership, members of the SANDF gathered at the De Brug mobilisation centre in Bloemfontein on Sunday to celebrate International Peacekeepers Day.
The Director of Defence Corporate Communication Brigadier General Andries Mahapa reiterated the significance of the day.
“The importance of today is in two folds: first we are here to celebrate the fallen heroes that served under the UN from 1948.
“Men and women sacrificed their lives in serving people of the world for peace and stability. On the other hand, we are also grieving the lives of the fallen soldiers,” said Mahapa.
Troops currently deployed
Chief of defence General Rhudzani Maphwanya confirmed the current deployment of the military to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
“We have prepared forces and we are currently ready to fill the forces where they are required, parts of those who were deployed internally had already gotten their rest period and have already completed their retraining because for every mission we prepare for the next mission,” said Maphwanya.
Maphwanya also said they have enough capacity to deploy troops to five different areas simultaneously.
SANDF troops highly disciplined
While troops from other countries are sent home due to bad behaviour on missions, Maphwanya said the SANDF troops are highly disciplined.
“We are not going to tolerate any form of ill-discipline, in that way we are transparent while also aware that where people are deployed there might be challenges but we should be solutions not add to them,” said Maphwanya.
He also touched base on the issue of resources, saying they have never had an issue where their work was ineffective due to a lack of resources.
Cabo Delgado deployment
Deputy Minister of Defence Thabang Makwetla said the Cabo Delgado deployment was a success as they were able to intervene and take control of the situation.
“Our deployment in Mozambique is not peacekeeping but it is peace enforcement against terrorism. Our military purpose is to attain resolution to this conflict,” said Makwetla.
UN Director Masimba Tafirenyika said the South African army remains the biggest contributor to the UN missions and have shown its effectiveness through the unprecedented growth for stability and peace in the African Continent.
“Ever since South Africa started contributing to the UN, we have seen so much police and military surveillance growth.
“Currently, South Africa is the 25th largest contributor of peacekeeping operations in the world,” said Tafirenyika.