Gruesome Mozambique video investigated

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A brief, but graphic, video on social media seemingly showing South African soldiers complicit in burning bodies has drawn the comment “despicable” from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) with an investigation underway.

The senior SANDF corporate communication officer, Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, reacted to the video saying it “depicts the SANDF and other unknown defence force members engaging in activities against the law of armed conflict”.

He continues: “The SANDF was recently made aware of a video clip circulating on social media depicting members in a yet unidentified defence force uniform throwing deceased bodies in a pile of burning rubble as well as SANDF member(s) standing around watching them”.

The incident is believed to have happened last November in Mozambique, “where South Africa has committed forces as part of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM)”.

“Once forces are committed, they form part of a combined force and fall under the command and control of SAMIM. South Africa only supports their mission logistically.

“The SAMIM Force Commander (Major General Xolani Mankayi) is conducting an investigation surrounding the involvement of its members in this despicable act.

“The SANDF does not condone in any way the acts committed in the video and those who are found guilty of such acts will be brought to book,” the statement has the one-star saying.

South Africa’s Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) Manual states “the dead must be protected and taken care of” and “maltreatment of dead bodies” is a breach of the law of armed conflict and a war crime.

It is not clear from which countries the soldiers in the video are from, but the uniforms appear to be Mozambican, with possibly troops from Botswana and Lesotho as well as the South African flag on a sleeve visible as well.

SADC countries contributing troops and equipment to SAMIM are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. All work in collaboration with the Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (FADM) and a thousand strong contingent of Rwandan soldiers and support personnel.