2 250 SANDF members took part in peacekeeping operations last year

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A total of 2 254 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) took part in peacekeeping operations in the last year, as South Africa increases its role in regional conflict resolution and peacekeeping efforts. The SANDF also deployed seven units to safeguard South Africa’s borders.

According to the Department of Defence Annual Report for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012, the personnel were deployed in three large to medium scale peace support operations (PSOs) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Sudan and in support of the Mozambique government to execute counter-piracy operations in the Mozambique Channel. These operations also included five general military assistance operations in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Republic of Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea and the DRC. A total of 120 instructors, 48 support personnel and 12 personnel were sent to the DRC.

The cost of peacekeeping operations was highlighted by the death of an SANDF member in Sudan last week. Private Vincent Mthuthuzeli Van der Walt was killed in an ambush whilst performing patrol and escort duties as part of United Nations – African Union Hybrid Operations in Darfur. Another two South African personnel, Corporal Kabelo Ronald Sebe and Private Thabiso Sydwell Makhetha, were injured.

In the wake of the increased operational tempo in external, internal and border safeguarding deployments, the South African Army utilised 10 090 Reserve members to augment shortages in the Regular component.

Between April 2011 and March 2012 the SANDF also provided assistance during the Independence Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, assisted Tanzania with its ferry wreck disaster in September 2011, supported the South African Police Service (SAPS) in safeguarding the African Union Summit in Equatorial Guinea in June/July 2011 and delivered ballot material in the DRC. A total of 485.7 hours were flown by the SAAF in support of the election in the DRC.

The SANDF has been involved in more than 15 peace support operations, involving the deployment of around 2 500 military personnel. Deployment areas for these operations have included the DRC, Burundi, Sudan, Côte d’Ivore, Liberia, Nepal, CAR, the Comoros, and Mozambique.