An indication of how seriously South Africa’s national defence force is approaching last weekend’s border shooting incident comes with the announcement that the Joint Operations Chief is the point man for discussions with Mozambique.
Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo was set to fly to Maputo on Wednesday when he was informed not all those needed from the Mozambican side could be present for the meeting.
“We are waiting to hear from Mozambique when they will be ready to receive us and then we’ll go,” Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, SANDF Corporate Communications Director, said.
The shooting incident in the Ndumo area of KwaZulu-Natal has been brought to the attention of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, by fellow MP Kobus Marais, the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for her portfolio.
He wants her to issue a preliminary report on the shooting which he sees as a “highly irregular incident”. His letter to the Minister also points out that a preliminary report will take any unnecessary speculation about the “delicate security situation on the shared border” out of the equation.
“Border management with our neighbours is governed by set co-operation protocols designed to prevent incidents of this nature happening. We need to know how the protocols were breached in this instance, at whose command and on what basis.
“We need to take steps to reassure our neighbours we remain committed to civil joint border protection efforts, vital for the preservation of shared interests. The importance of this co-operation cannot be overstated, especially in view of our porous borders and the poor resourcing of the SANDF for border management,” Marais’ letter states.
While no South African soldiers were injured in Sunday’s incident, it was reported that two Mozambican border guards were killed and a third injured. Mgobozi said “no-one was injured on the South African side. On the Mozambican side, it’s difficult for me to confirm. They’re the ones to confirm if there are any deaths.”