Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a long way from the Mafikeng base of 10 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion, now home of the South African component of MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).
Within weeks of replacing 21 SAI, awareness of what faces the South African infantry men and women was brought forcibly home by an increased number of rebel group attacks, including one on a North Kivu church service. “The re-emergence of M23 in North Kivu means the battalion will not be able to rest on its laurels,” Lieutenant Rammilane Letsoalo, RSABATT (Republic of South Africa Battalion) public information officer reports.
One of the first duties allocated 10 SAI was that of escort. Under the command of Charlie Company’s Lieutenant Moeketsi Au the tasking saw schoolchildren arrive – and depart – safely from Boikene Primary School in Mavivi for the start of the school year.
10 SAI officially took over from its sister SA Army Infantry Formation unit by way of a change of command parade after arrival in DRC on 20 December. Incoming battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Tondayi Radzilani was handed a sword, representing RSABATT command, by his predecessor Lieutenant Colonel Khanyisani Zulu.
The now back home 21 SAI started its tour of duty, along with Tactical Intelligence personnel, in October 2021. Taskings included patrols, offensive operations, establishing temporary bases far from battalion headquarters as well as civil-military co-ordination including healthcare services, water supply, and community work.