Modise receives remains of latest soldier killed in the DRC


Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise on Monday officially received the mortal remains of a specialist military medic who lost his life during an M23 rebel attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month.

Sergeant Mbulelo David Ngubane was killed during contact between rebels and Southern African Development Community Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC) forces outside Sake on 30 May.

His remains were handed over to family members and Modise, accompanied by the senior leadership of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), at Air Force Base Waterkloof.

Ngubane will be laid to rest at Mbanyane AA section in Elliotdale, Eastern Cape, on Saturday 15 June at 09:00.

Ngubane is the latest SANDF fatality in the DRC, and was killed while administering medical assistance to wounded soldiers in what Head of Communication (HoC) Siphiwe Dlamini said in a statement was an ambulance “clearly marked with large medical symbols on both sides and on top, depicting a medical vehicle”.

Unconfirmed reports suggest a mortar round fired by the M23 went through an open hatch of the Mfezi armoured ambulance Ngubane was inside.

South Africa, at present with only two other Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states – Malawi and Tanzania – form the regional bloc mission (SAMIDRC) based in the eastern DRC. The mission has been operational since December and its mandate is currently said to expire on 15 December.

The ops medic was officially the fourth SANDF uniformed staffer to die while serving under the SAMIDRC flag. The first deaths came in February as a result of an M23 mortar attack on a SAMIDRC base, with Captain Simon Mkhulu Bobe and Lance Corporal Irven Thabang Semono killed. A third soldier died from what was termed in an earlier DoD statement as “challenges experienced while receiving health treatment”.

In addition to the death of Ngubane on 30 May, over a dozen SANDF soldiers were injured, some of them seriously, after coming into contact with the M23 at Sake, 25 km from Goma. Apparently a dozen M23 rebels were also killed, and a South African Mamba and a Casspir were captured along with a Tanzanian IVECO truck.