Two SA soldiers are presumed to have drowned in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a Mamba armoured personnel carrier plunged into a river near Kitchanga in the east of the vast country.
The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has about 1100 soldiers in the DRC as part of Operation Mistral, its support there of SA`s foreign policy that aims to foster peace and security in Africa`s trouble spots in order to create space for social justice and economic development.
The SA contingent forms part of the United Nations mission in the DRC known in French as the Mission des Nations Unies en Republique Democratique du Congo (MONUC).
The Department of Defence says preliminary reports indicate that the vehicle with seven passengers was crossing a bridge close to Kitchanga base when the bridge suddenly collapsed.
“Five of the seven soldiers managed to swim to safety, but unfortunately two others were trapped in the vehicle. The remains of the two soldiers have since been recovered,” spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi says in a statement.
The names of the deceased will be announced once their next of kin have been informed.
Chief of the SANDF General Godfrey Ngwenya has ordered that a Board of Inquiry be convened to investigate the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.
Ngwenya and Defence minister Charles Nqakula have “extended their sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased.”
The deaths follow on that of another SA peacekeeper last month. A woman infantry soldier died in Darfur after apparently being stung by a scorpion.