Reports of assault and torture committed by South African soldiers deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are viewed “in a serious light” according to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke.
He said in a statement a formal investigation has been started into the “alleged reports to establish veracity and take the necessary corrective action against those involved”.
There are currently 1 156 South African soldiers, including 203 women, deployed under the 5 SA Infantry Battalion flag with MONUSCO, the single largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world.
South African legal officers and national investigating officers have been despatched to the DRC to assist the UN through its offices in both Kinshasa and Goma.
SANDF Director: Corporate Communications, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, said the South African military lawyers and human rights experts would provide feedback to South Africa “as soon as they have the necessary information”.
“If the allegations are true those responsible will be dealt with in terms of the Military Disciplinary Code and the Code of Conduct.”
The alleged assault incident is apparently against a local resident who was – for the second time – caught attempting to steal rations from one of the forward bases currently occupied by South Africans. The responsibility for policing in MONUSCO lies with Bangladesh, the second biggest contributor of military and police to UN peacekeeping missions.
South Africa is one of the top ten troop contributing countries to MONUSCO. The others are Pakistan, India, Tanzania, Uruguay, Nepal, Malawi, Morocco and Ghana.