The latest addition to the South African casualty list from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) peacekeeping deployment is a Thaba Tshwane-based military policeman.
Corporal Petrus Sello Lekgoathi of 13 Provost Unit died of illness related complications last week. His body was flown to AFB Waterkloof this week and handed to his family for burial.
A statement issued by Joint Operations headquarters of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said: “The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Thabang Makwetla, the Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, the Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke and the Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Rudzani Maphwanya extend their deepest sympathy and condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and loved ones of the deceased soldier.”
The South African National Defence Force has lost at least 56 personnel since September 2003 on United Nations peacekeeping missions. These names are marked on a wall at the memorial in Bloemfontein, which was unveiled on International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29 May 2018.
South Africa currently only has troops and equipment deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the MONUSCO mission, the single largest UN peacekeeping deployment in the world. South Africa was previously part of the UN mission in Sudan based at Darfur.
At present, the main SANDF force in the DRC is 2 South African Infantry Battalion with 800 troops serving in the Central African country.
Since the establishment of the SANDF, South Africa has been involved in a large number of peacekeeping operations. These contributions have resulted in more than 80 fatalities, both combat and non-combat related. These deaths cover operations in Lesotho, the Central African Republic, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
The single biggest loss of life suffered by South African forces deployed continentally since democracy was the ill-fated Battle for Bangui in the Central African Republic in March 2013 where 15 elite soldiers were killed and a further 27 wounded in a vicious firefight that saw the deaths of several hundred Seleka rebels.
South Africa is a contributor to UN and AU peacekeeping missions, with annual contributions fluctuating between 1 500 and 2 500 members. Since democracy numerous peacekeeping deployments have been undertaken, including operations Mistral, Sunray and Teutonic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Operation Espresso on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border; Operation Fibre in Burundi; Operation Triton in the Comoros; Operation Montego in Liberia; Operation Cordite in Darfur; Operation Pristine in Cote D’Ivoire; Operation Vimbizela in the Central African Republic (CAR); Operation Bongane in Uganda; Operation Rachel in Mozambique; and Operation Manguzi in Angola, Lesotho and Namibia.