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Defence force soldiers killed in Congo mortar bomb to be laid to rest

The SANDF suffered two fatalities and three members sustained injuries. The deceased will be buried in Tshwane and Kimberly this weekend.

Two SA national defence force (SANDF) soldiers that did not make it out of its recent military mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo will be laid to rest on March 2.

SANDF spokesperson Colonel Selinah Rawlins said the two soldiers who were part of Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to the DRC were killed in a mortar incident on February 14.

Rawlins said a mortar bomb landed inside a base where the soldiers were stationed – killing some and maiming more.

“As a result of this indirect fire, the SANDF suffered two fatalities and three injuries. The injured were taken to the nearest hospital in Goma.”

Rawlins said Captain Mkhulu Bobe will be laid to rest in Kimberley and Lance Corporal Thabang Semono at the Thaba Tshwane cemetery after a service in the local city hall.

“Both will be accorded a funeral with military honours, and the army has appointed members of the army command to officiate.

Major-General Thituwi Mulaudzi at Bobe’s funeral and Major-General Dilebogo Mashego at Semono’s.

 

She said the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise her deputy Thabang Makwetla, acting secretary for defence Dr Thobekile Gamede and chief of the SANDF General Rudzani Maphwanya all expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased while wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

 

Soldier union, Sandu secretary Advocate JG Pikkie Greeff extended the union’s deepest condolences to the families, colleagues, and loved ones of the fallen soldiers.

“This devastating incident has claimed the lives of two brave members of the SANDF and left three injured.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the fallen soldiers during this incredibly difficult time. We recognise and honour the ultimate sacrifice made by these courageous individuals in service to our nation and in support of peace and stability efforts in the DRC,” Greeff said.

“The recent attack serves as a stark reminder of the inherent dangers faced by our soldiers deployed in conflict zones. Sandu acknowledges the high level of training and readiness of our troops, which is of utmost importance in such challenging environments.”

He said however, it was also evident that additional support and resources were needed to ensure the safety and security of the deployed members.

“There can be no doubt about the training of our soldiers; it is of a very high rating, and troop preparedness and readiness are also very high.

Some experts have expressed concern that this deployment needs more support in terms of cover, such as firepower from the air for our deployed members. This would be a great deterrent to future attacks.

We call upon the South African government and the SANDF leadership to prioritise the safety and well-being of our troops deployed in the DRC,” he said.

Greff implored for a comprehensive investigation into the recent attack to be conducted to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the incident and to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

“As an organisation representing the interests of SANDF members, Sandu remains committed to advocating for the welfare, rights and safety of our soldiers. We will continue to closely monitor developments in the DRC and provide support to affected personnel and their families.”

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