Double tragedies strike SANDF as submarine accident followed by Samil crash

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The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has faced two separate tragedies this week. As the nation mourns the loss of three SA Navy submarine crew members off the coast of Kommetjie, Cape Town, another tragic incident claimed the lives of four South African Army soldiers.

The SA Army incident occurred on Wednesday 20 September as members of the 8th South African Infantry Battalion (8 SAI) were en route to the Combat Training Centre at Lohatla in the Northern Cape ahead of Exercise Vuk’uhlome.

SANDF Director Defence Corporate Communication, Brigadier General Andries Mokoena Mahapa, said the incident occurred at around 17:20 around 90 km from Upington. A Samil 50 truck became unserviceable so was taken under tow by another Samil 50 when the towed vehicle experienced a right front tyre burst, leading to both vehicles rolling over.

Four soldiers were ejected from one of the Samils and were crushed when it rolled onto them – they were pronounced dead on the scene – while others sustained various degrees of injuries. Two soldiers were critically injured and were taken to Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, along with nine soldiers with minor injuries.

“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Thandi Modise, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, Acting Secretary for Defence, Dr Thobile Gamede, Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphwanya, the Chief of the South African Army, General Lawrence Mbatha extend their deepest condolences to the bereaved families, friends, and colleagues,” the SANDF said. “The bereaved families have requested privacy during this difficult time, and we ask the media and the public to respect their wishes.”

South African National Defence Union (SANDU) National Secretary Pikkie Greeff said the incident “serves as a sombre reminder of the risks our dedicated servicemen and servicewomen face daily in their unwavering commitment to defending our nation Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost their Ives, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the injured personnel and their families as they endure this challenging time.”

The recent losses highlight the risks and sacrifices that members of the armed forces face in the line of duty. They also serve as a stark reminder of the importance of safety measures and preparedness in military operations.