Escort duty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an essential and hazardous component of the multiple duties soldiers, including South Africans, are assigned when deployed as part of MONUSCO, the largest peacekeeping mission currently on the United Nations’ books.
21 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion is presently the major South African component of MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the eastern DRC where rebel groups, including Uganda-based Allied Defence Force (ADF), operate.
Convoys using the regionally important RN4 road linking Ituri to North Kivu are regularly targeted by illegal armed groups, RSABATT (Republic of South Africa Battalion) public information officer Major A Cengani reports.
“ADF elements attempted to disrupt a convoy being escorted by South African troops by attacking vehicles in its centre. SA National Defence Force (SANDF) ‘young lions’ [the appellation given to SA Army soldiers] under the command of Lieutenant CD Ramphele responded to protect civilians in the convoy and their comrades.
“At least eight armed group fighters were killed during the shootout with, unfortunately, three civilians succumbing to injuries. Four AK-47 assault rifles and 18 rounds of ammunition were confiscated. ‘Train as we fight’ proved to be the key to winning this firefight as South African soldiers came out strong with no fatalities,” Cengani reported.
He quoted Ramphele as saying, “the first thing that came to mind when I heard the first bullet from the armed group was ‘Dash, Down, Crawl and Fire’”.
Insurgents in eastern DRC have, according to Cengani, lost most of the territory they once controlled and are resorting to skirmish-type attacks.