Moz body burning investigation ongoing

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A gruesome video which surfaced earlier this year of bodies seemingly dumped into a fire and burnt in Mozambique by soldiers is still being investigated after drawing widespread condemnation.

The November 2022 incident, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise told Parliamentary questioner Russel Cebekhulu of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), is “currently under investigation” by SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique) under the auspices of the regional Southern African Development Community.

She further told her questioner, in a reply dated 13 March, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) sent “its own fact-finding mission to determine the veracity of the incident”. Modise’s response seems to indicate the SANDF report forms part of the SADC investigation, adding the SANDF “will not interfere” in it.

“The SANDF will, on completion of the investigation, ascertain whether any member(s) are implicated in any wrongdoing and institute disciplinary actions (sic) where applicable,” her written response to Cebekhulu reads.

When video of the incident surfaced in January, senior SANDF corporate communication officer, Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, reacted to the video saying it “depicts the SANDF and other unknown defence force members engaging in activities against the law of armed conflict”.

He said at the time: “The SANDF was recently made aware of a video clip circulating on social media depicting members in an as yet unidentified defence force uniform throwing deceased bodies in a pile of burning rubble as well as SANDF member(s) standing around watching them”.

The incident is believed to have happened last November in Mozambique, “where South Africa has committed forces as part of the SAMIM”.

“Once forces are committed, they form part of a combined force and fall under the command and control of SAMIM,” a statement reported the one-star saying.

South African Major General Xolani Mankayi, SAMIM force commander, was at the time reported as saying an investigation into the “despicable act” was underway.

In her response to Cebekhulu, Modise gives no indication of the status of the investigation or when it will be completed.