The national defence force conducted peacekeeping operations, rescued sailors at sea, patrolled for pirates off Mozambique and provided humanitarian assistance to its neighbours in the last financial year, according to a list of achievements in the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report.
The latest annual report, for 2019/20, among others indicates “approximately 1 114” SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel were part of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the period under review.
This, the report states, is part of the national defence force’s support to “Creating a better South Africa and contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world”.
Operation Mistral was then and still is the only continental utilisation of South African military personnel and equipment following withdrawal from UNAMID in Darfur, Sudan.
Additionally, general military assistance was provided to the Mozambican Government to curb piracy in the Mozambique Channel. This is executed via a Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreement. South African military personnel and assets were deployed in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as part of disaster relief efforts following severe flooding, according to the report’s force employment section.
It goes on to state medical standby assistance was provided to the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force during the launching of the Eswatini Malaria Elimination Fund Summit, without giving any dates of the deployment nor specifying which SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) units were utilised.
“The SANDF also planned, co-ordinated and conducted Exercise Mosi, a combined multi-national exercise with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Russian Federation and South Africa on South Africa’s west coast between Cape Columbine and the Cape of Good Hope.”
The report was tabled in Parliament late last year ahead of the house rising for the year-end recess. It usually becomes a public document around October each year but this did not happen, apparently another side effect of the coronavirus-induced ongoing state of national disaster. The report is also usually available on the DoD website, currently still down (reportedly due to service provider problems).
As far as humanitarian assistance is concerned, the report has it helicopter medical evacuations were performed at Umtata in the Eastern Cape, KwaSwayimane in KwaZulu-Natal and Du Toit’s Kloof Pass in the Western Cape. SANDF aircraft assisted in hoisting five poisoned sailors and an injured sailor from ships at sea off Durban.
Three search and rescue sorties make it into the annual report – one for a capsized rubber duck in the Cape Town area, a second for a similar craft in the Hout Bay/Robben Island area and the third for as downed SA Civil Aviation Authority Learjet in the George area of the southern Cape. The aircraft, its three-person crew and all equipment, was lost during instrument landing system (ILS) calibration operations last January.