The softly spoken but steely-eyed man who heads the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Joint Operations division will not be drawn on whether a South African operator made one of the longest confirmed sniper kill shots in history.
Various South African media have carried reports of a successful two kilometre plus kill by a South African soldier deployed in the DRC as part of the UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) this week.
“South Africa was not specifically requested to supply snipers as part of its troop contribution but the 850-strong battalion moved to the DRC to be part of the FIB does have certain capabilities,” Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi told a briefing in Thaba Tshwane this morning when asked about the sniper’s kill.
“That is a question you would have to ask the UN,” was all he would say. At the time of publication the UN Peacekeeping Operations website did not carry any information about the sniper shot.
One report said at least six M23 rebels were killed by South African snipers. This apparently included one killed at a range of 2 125 metres. If verified this would become the sixth longest confirmed combat sniper shot in history, military writer Darren Olivier has said.
The reports also indicated that small teams of SANDF snipers have been operating behind M23 lines to disrupt the rebel group’s supply lines. The sniper was apparently using a South African specialist anti-materiel rifle – an NTW 20 or NTW 14.5 – a weapon designed and manufactured by the State-owned defence industry conglomerate, Denel.
Indications are the sniper was part of a two-man team with his spotter, responsible for “lighting up” selected targets with a laser.