SAAF DR Congo death mourned by UN Secretary General

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United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres added his condolences to those of senior South African defence ministry and national defence force personnel on the death of a SA Air Force (SAAF) flight engineer when the Oryx he was crew on came under fire in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday (5 February).

The Guterres statement expresses “deepest condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper and to the government and people of South Africa”. At the time of publishing his name, as well as that of another flight crew member wounded in the shooting, had not been released as the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was informing family members.

The statement points out attacks against peacekeepers “may constitute a war crime under international law” asking Congolese authorities to investigate the “heinous attack” and bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible.

Guterres’ statement adds there is no indication – so far – of who was responsible for the attack or what weapons were used. There was also, at the time of publication, no indication from MONUSCO, the SANDF or the SAAF on the status of the rotor-wing aircraft. Department of Defence (DoD) Head of Communication (HOD) Siphiwe Dlamini said the helicopter flew back to its Goma base after being shot at.

The medium transport Oryx helicopter is part of the South African composite helicopter unit (CHU) in Goma which also houses a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) component.