SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) Forces have paid tribute to a fallen South African peacekeeper, Staff Sergeant Johan Andries van Rooyen, who passed away on 9 July in Mozambique following a short illness.
A ceremony was held in Pemba, Cabo Delgado, on 12 July, reports the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Captain Anelisiwe Tamela.
On 13 July, the South African National Defence Force officially handed over the mortal remains of van Rooyen to his family at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria. He passed away at a hospital in Pemba after he reported at Mihluri base where he presented with a severe headache and chest complications. He was part of Operation Vikela, South African contribution to SAMIM.
Van Rooyen was born in 1971 in Bloemfontein Free State, he joined the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1993. He had previously served with 14 United Nations and African Union Peacekeeping Missions – in Darfur, Burundi, Sudan, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speaking on behalf of the SAMIM leadership, on 12 July the SAMIM Deputy Force Commander Brigadier Simon Barwabatsile paid tribute to the fallen peacekeeper: “Staff Sergeant van Rooyen was living proof of how a fine person can be. He was an exemplary leader to the people in his charge, a loving husband to his wife, a caring man to his family and a devoted leader to his subordinates” he said.
“We wholeheartedly thank the van Rooyen family for raising a son for this noble service, we thank the SA National Defence Force for professionally nurturing such a professional and we also thank the Republic of South Africa, for finding us SAMIM members, worthy to be given an opportunity to serve”, he added.
The Republic of South Africa Contingent Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Judith Mandy Phiri, praised the late Staff Sergeant for his patriotism and sense of duty. “Staff Sergeant van Rooyen, we thank you for your commitment and for all the services you rendered; and be assured that we will not forget the excellent Non-Commissioned Officer that you were, nor your family,” she said.
His colleague, Staff Sergeant du Toit, remembered Staff Sergeant van Rooyen as a passionate man that carried his emotions on his sleeve, with a love for life and hardworking.
Staff Sergeant van Rooyen arrived in SAMIM on 24 March for a six-month service. He was part of Combat Team Alpha Engineer Troop. He is survived by his wife, Hannetjie, daughter Elverna and granddaughter.