Elements of 2 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion are heading to Mozambique as part of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Combat Team Alpha rotation to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).
In addition to infantry soldiers from Zeerust in North West, Combat Team Alpha comprises 1 Parachute Battalion from Tempe in the Free State.
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division communication officer Captain SM Nengovhela reports mobilisation of Combat Team Alpha is underway at the SA Army joint mobilisation and demobilisation headquarters outside the Free State capital Bloemfontein ahead of deployment to Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
The nitty-gritty of the deployment started last week with equipment weighed and loaded on trucks ahead of transfer to suitable aircraft. On the personnel side, soldiers going to the southern African country also had pregnancy and COVID-19 tests ahead of departure.
“On the morning of the flight, personnel from the mobilisation centre transport deploying forces to Bram Fisher International Airport in Bloemfontein depending on flight timing. When all procedures are completed at the airport the forces depart to the mission area and Joint Mobilisation staff return to the mobilisation centre to prepare for the next flight,” Nengovhela reported on 15 June, without giving the date of the first flight, its origins and how many flights will eventually move Combat Team Alpha.
Due to a lack of South African Air Force (SAAF) airlift capacity, chartered including civilian passenger jets are transporting South African troops from Bloemfontein to Mozambique, with soldiers seen boarding what appeared to be a Bombardier CRJ900. FlightRadar24 on 11 June showed a CRJ900 (ZS-CMO) flying from Bloemfontein to Pemba under the SA Air Force (SAAF) call sign LMG490.
On 9 June a Sapsan Airline Ilyushin Il-76TD transport aircraft was tracked flying from Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof to Pemba, also with a SAAF call sign. This aircraft moved equipment to Mozambique for the SAMIM force.
In April, SANDF Joint Operations Chuwef, Lieutenant General Simphiwe Sangweni, said the President and Parliament approved deployment of 1 495 soldiers to Cabo Delgado, with the SANDF component set to increase from 500-plus personnel on the ground. Indications are up to 1 200 personnel could be deployed under Combat Team Alpha.
It is understood elements of Combat Team Alpha arrived in Mozambique at the end of May and were welcomed by SAMIM Force Commander, South African Major General Xolani Mankayi.
Between 60 and 80 armoured personnel carriers, mostly Casspirs, are expected to be sent to Pemba in Cabo Delgado as part of the deployment.