New base in DRC for 21 SAI

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Soldiers from 21 SA infantry (SAI) Battalion recently deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of Operation Mistral and particularly those posted to the Beni area have a new base of operations in North Kivu.

The base occupies land 12 km north of Beni and was made available to MONUSCO, the UN mission in DRC, by local chiefs and residents.

Ongoing deterioration of the security situation in the Eringeti, Bambubu-Kisiki, area of North Kivu prompted MONUSCO Command to plan a new base for the area.

Its first occupants are elements of the Doornkop, Johannesburg, battalion which started a MONUSCO rotation as part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) earlier this year. 21 SAI replaced Thohoyandou-based 15 SAI, which fulfilled one component of South Africa’s commitment to UN peacekeeping efforts in the troubled central African country for 14 months.

Taking up occupation of the base this month (February), an officer identified only as base commander Major Chochoe in a MONUSCO statement, said his troops were “warmly welcomed by locals and have collaborated with them without any problems”.

The area has, according to MONUSCO, been targeted more often than previously by ADF rebels leading to the decision to put boots on the ground to ensure safety and protection of civilians in line with the mission mandate.

Bambuba-Kisiki youth leader, Germain Kakule Vutsarana, said: “MONUSCO’s presence brought hope and cohesion has been strengthened between the base and us. We want MONUSCO to redouble efforts to strengthen security in the area”.



Another local official said the security situation in the area “will undoubtedly improve” thanks to the new base and its South African occupants.