The Court of Military Appeal has upheld a 20 year prison sentence for Private Elias Mogaki who shot and killed his girlfriend while deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).
He and Private Nomathemba Ngeleka were serving with 5 SA Infantry Battalion. She was subsequently honoured with a post mortem UN peacekeeper’s medal.
The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said in a statement: “Mogaki attempted to commit suicide immediately after the shooting [on 27 October 2017]. He was medically stabilised in the DRC and then transferred to South Africa for further medical treatment. Following his medical recovery he was formally charged with murder. On completion of the investigation and subsequent trial, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Court of a Military Judge on June 18 this year. He was afforded an opportunity to appeal the sentence. A Court of Military Appeal subsequently confirmed and upheld the 20 year jail sentence imposed”.
The SANDF is proceeding with a dishonourable discharge for Mogaki.
He is currently in Bloemfontein Military Detention Barracks.
“On completion of the necessary administrative (separation) processes, he will be transferred and handed to the Rustenburg Correctional Services facility where he will serve his prison sentence. ”
Commenting on the sentence, SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said the force “will not tolerate any acts of ill-discipline, criminal activities, conduct detrimental to the Military Disciplinary Code (MDC) and the Code of Conduct among members, both military and civilian, regardless of position or rank level”.
This is not the first time that a South African soldier has either killed a fellow soldier or attempted suicide. For example, in February 2002 Corporal Mynette Enoch Nguyuza, deployed in Burundi, committed suicide after wounding two comrades in an argument. Several other incidents were recorded in Burundi: in November 2004 Gunner Elvin Mopani Hendricks was shot dead by a colleague and on 20 May 2005, Rifleman Ingongo Gasa committed suicide after murdering Rifleman Bashin Sejake and wounding four others.
During the peacekeeping deployment to Sudan, at least two suicides were recorded, in 2008 and 2013.