The 16 June cross-border shooting incident between South Africa and Mozambique has reached Cabinet level with Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu noting a high level delegation was sent to Mozambique to investigate.
This week’s post-Cabinet briefing was the first time South Africa acknowledged any deaths in the incident (two Mozambican border police were killed). Before yesterday’s briefing the national defence force neither confirmed nor denied any deaths saying no South Africans were shot and deferring enquiries on Mozambican deaths to Mozambican authorities.
Mthembu said the South African team includes SANDF Joint Operations Chief Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo and SA Police Service (SAPS) Deputy National Commissioner Lieutenant General Sehlahle Masemola. They are, according to a Cabinet statement, supported by SANDF and SAPS members and will meet their Mozambican counterparts.
“The team is on a fact-finding mission into the shooting incident. They are expected to, among others, discuss a joint investigation team between Mozambique and South Africa,” he is reported as saying and added South Africans were “requested to await the conclusion and outcomes of the joint investigation”.
Mozambican newspaper O Pais has it that the Mozambicans killed were members of that country’s frontier patrol and were killed on the Mozambican side of the border during a firefight, the cause of which is not known.
The South African soldiers involved were deployed on the national border protection tasking Operation Corona and are members on 10 Anti-Aircraft Regiment in Kimberley.
The shooting incident took place near Ponta do Ouro in Maputo province, according to O Pais, about10 kilometres from the nearest Mozambican border post, while the Mozambicans were on patrol. The two deceased policemen were part of a three-man Frontier Guard patrol.
In South Africa the incident has escalated to Ministry level. Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais has written to Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula asking for an interim report on the issue because of its security and foreign relations implications.