More SA Army fatalities in DRC

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Two South African soldiers died in what appears to be a murder/suicide incident on Thursday (29 February) in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

They were part of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) contingent in the central African country as the fifth largest troop contributing country (TCC) to the United Nations (UN) mission – MONUSCO.

A six paragraph statement issued by Colonel Selinah Rawlins, Acting Director, Defence Corporate Communication (DCC), makes no mention of which South African military unit the dead soldiers belonged to.  15 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion from Mthatha is the current South African component of the three-country Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) with Tactical Intelligence Unit IV from the SA Army Intelligence Formation replacing sister unit III in December. There are no details on which infantry battalion is doing duty as part of a quick reaction force (QRF) attached to the FIB while the SA Air Force (SAAF) and SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) do not release unit and personnel information on external deployment.

According to the DCC statement, the SANDF “regrets to announce that two of its members currently deployed as part of MONUSCO have died” with no indication of where the shooting took place.

“The incident occurred when one of them shot and killed the other with their service weapon before turning the weapon on themselves with fatal consequences,” it reads adding a board of inquiry (BOI) has been convened to work with MONUSCO command to investigate the incident and circumstances leading to it.

“The members’ remains will be repatriated to South Africa in due course. All families have been informed of the unfortunate incident.”

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise expressed her shock at the incident as well as offering condolences to the families of the dead soldiers. Also on the condolences list are Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla, Acting Secretary for Defence (SecDef), Thobekile Gamede and General Rudzani Maphwanya, SANDF Chief.

The deaths bring to four the number of South African military personnel killed in DRC in February.

Captain Simon Mkhulu Bobe and Lance Corporal Irven Thabang Semono, on the personnel strength of 1 SAI, attached to the South African advance party for SAMIDRC (Southern African Development Community Mission in DRC) died when a mortar hit their base on 14 February. Another three soldiers were wounded in the single mortar hit.