CSANDF on hand to welcome 15 SAI back from DRC

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South African infantry soldiers, specifically those in 15 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion, earned singular praise from the country’s senior soldier for making “a valuable contribution to the long term goal of a better, peaceful and prosperous continent”.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Rudzani Maphwanya, was on hand at the battalion’s Thohoyandou, Limpopo, headquarters to officially welcome home soldiers on completion of their tour of duty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The deployment to the UN mission in the central African country is an ongoing component of the South African government’s foreign policy and sees SANDF elements serving in the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) under the codename Operation Mistral.

Maphwanya’s visit to Thohoyandou was his first to a returning SANDF deployment since succeeding Solly Shoke as South Africa’s top soldier last May.

Addressing 690 15 SAI soldiers and support personnel back from DRC, Maphwanya, according to an SANDF report, said: “The nature of peacekeeping on the (African) continent is characterised by low to high intensity military operations under chapter seven of United Nations (UN) peace enforcement. This implies SANDF soldiers, predominantly from the landward force, have to leave loved ones to travel great distances, risk injury during combat and even be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice”.

“They are dedicated, they are honourable; they represent the best of our country and we are grateful”.

The Limpopo battalion’s place in the FIB, manned by Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, is now filled by soldiers from 21 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion, headquartered south of Johannesburg at Doornkop, on the outskirts of Soweto.

15 SAI’s deployment to DRC started in October 2020 with the last battalion personnel flying out of Goma on 11 December last year.