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Remains of SANDF member returned to SA; injured soldiers recovering

A SANDF soldier is repatriated.The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has received the mortal remains of the soldier who died in a firefight in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month, while another two soldiers are recovering from their wounds in hospital.

Moalosi Albert Mokhothu (27) died during a gunfight with rebels whilst serving as a member of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (MONSCO) which is responsible of ensuring peace and stability in the eastern part of the DRC.

The SANDF received and handed over his mortal remains to his family on 30 December during a ceremonial parade at Air Force Base Waterkloof. The acting Chief of the SANDF, Lieutenant General Zimpande Msimang, described Mokhothu as a hero. “We salute and honour him for the supreme sacrifice he has made for the achievement of peace and stability on the continent. To the family and his community your pain is shared by thousands of South Africans, in the country and on the continent.”

Mokhothu will be buried at Botshabelo outside Bloemfontein on 7 January.

The SANDF said it will inscribe his name on the wall of remembrance and acknowledge him as a hero who paid the ultimate price whilst contributing towards peace, stability and prosperity in the continent.

“This gallant soldier performed duties not only for the benefit of the people of the Republic of South Africa but for the entire African continent. Therefore, his death was definitely not in vain,” SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said.

Affectionately known as "Bushi" by his colleagues and friends, Mokhothu always wanted to become a successful paratrooper and to fulfil his childhood aspiration of becoming a Presidential close-protector in future.

As a community member, he was involved in various projects with the youth of Botshabelo Township- included mentoring and training young people in stage drama and street soccer.

He also single-handedly established a youth traditional dance group known as the Bokamoso Traditional Dance Group that immensely contributed to youth skill empowerment in Botshabelo.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Jacob Zuma, mourned the loss of Mokhothu, saying, "he died fighting for peace and stability in our continent. He paid the ultimate price for peace. We are deeply saddened. We salute him for his courage and his contribution will never be forgotten."

Meanwhile, the other South African soldiers wounded in the gunfight in the DRC are recovering in hospital. Mabanga said Rifleman Sidumo Simon Mbhamali, 25, from 4 SAI Battalion, was in a critical condition at a hospital in Kinshasha after being shot in the neck while Corporal Bonginkosi David Phakathi, 42, of Mpumalanga Signal Unit, is recovering from a wound to his hand.

The soldiers were injured during a Mayi Mayi rebel attack near Butembu on 19 December during which four Mayi Mayi rebels were killed and two captured.

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