Xinavane airstrip important cog for SAMIM logistics


SA Army two-star Xolani Mankayi, Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) Force Commander, has just completed an extensive visit to all SAMIM bases, including an airstrip under construction.

The airstrip is at Xinavane, south of Macomia in Cabo Delgado, and is seen as a vital component of the multi-national SAMIM’s logistic operations in the east African country. South African Operation Vikela communication officer Lieutenant Commander N Mhlongo reports the Xinavane strip will be an alternative to support forces based in Macomia.

At South African Combat Team Alpha’s Mihluri base, Mankayi gave an overview ranging from logistics and equipment, through to personnel, co-operation and pledges from Southern African Development Community (SADC) states. Mhlongo reports: “The operational briefing left members beaming with pride as details of all activities conducted since October 2021 were tabled”.

Mankayi used the theatre of operations visit to be part of a patrol to gain first-hand insight into, among others, terrain and logistic challenges as well as the troops’ interaction and relations with the local population.

Also in Mozambique the South African Combat Team Alpha established a civil-military co-ordination team mid-last year to assist locals and internally displaced persons (IDPs) wherever possible with limited means. Food insecurity and malnutrition along with over-crowding in IDP camps are where most of the South African efforts currently go in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado.

The team’s aim is to provide sustainable humanitarian assistance and transfer authority to local institutions as the peace stabilisation process in particularly the northern part of Mozambique continues. The over-crowded IDP camp at Xinavane is where its main focus currently is.

In the pipeline is a library project, part of what is seen to be “a critical need” for literacy in wider Cabo Delgado. The team will promote reading and writing to contribute to eliminating illiteracy and “resurrect the spirit of reading” with a start in the form of a box of books donated by Ponelopele Reading Club in Polokwane.

In addition to inspecting SAMIM facilities, Mankayi has been tasked with investigating a video showing soldiers in Mozambique burning what appear to be insurgent corpses. The video surfaced this month, but was apparently taken in November last year after a SAMIM operation that killed several dozen insurgents. A South African soldier is apparently seen filming the incident.

Mankayi convened a Board of Inquiry to “thoroughly investigate the circumstances around the matter at issue,” SAMIM said in a statement on 10 January.

On 13 January a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) team left for Pemba in Mozambique to investigate the incident. The team comprises members from the Joint Operations and legal divisions as well as Defence Intelligence.

International laws of conflict prohibit desecration and mistreatment of corpses, although corpses may be cremated for hygienic reasons.