Two SANDF soldiers die after mortar bomb hits military base in DRC

The soldiers were deployed in the SADC mission in the DRC and were injured during the indirect fire.

Days after South Africans questioned the safety of soldiers deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), two South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers lost their lives on Wednesday in the region while three more sustained severe injuries after a mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African Contingent’s military bases.

 A mortar bomb is an explosive shell that is fired from an artillery weapon that looks like a canon.

“SANDF confirms that on 14 February at about 1.30 pm, a mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African Contingent military bases inflicting casualties and injuries to the SANDF soldiers,” the defence force said.

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Indirect fire

According to the SANDF, the soldiers were deployed under the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) mission in the DRC and were injured during the indirect fire.

The SA Contingent was deployed to support the government of the DRC in its endeavours to establish and maintain peace, security, and stability within the region.

This contingent operates in collaboration with international partners and local authorities to address various challenges and promote sustainable development efforts aimed at improving the overall well-being of the people living in the DRC.

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Hospital in Goma

Due to the unforeseen impact of the indirect fire, the SANDF tragically lost two of its members, and three others sustained injuries during the incident. Prompt action was taken to transport the wounded to the closest medical facility in Goma, where they received the necessary medical care and attention.

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, and deputy, Thabang Makwetla, the Acting Secretary for Defence, Dr Thobekile Gamede and the Chief of the SANDF, General Rudzani Maphwanya expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers.

Earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a directive for the dispatch of 2 900 SA soldiers to provide support in combating illicit armed factions in the eastern region of the DRC.

This was to fulfil South Africa’s international obligation towards the (SADC)’s mission to the country.

Budgeted at R2 billion, the Presidency said the year-long deployment, would not impact provisions for the cash-strapped SANDF’s regular maintenance and emergency repairs.

Additional reporting by:  Nicholas Zaal and Brian Sokutu