National Defence Union pleads for resources to aid SANDF members in DRC

National Defence Union pleads for resources to aid SANDF members in DRC. Picture: File

National Defence Union pleads for resources to aid SANDF members in DRC. Picture: File

Published Feb 16, 2024


The South African National Defence Union (Sandu) has pleaded for additional resources to aid deployed South African soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following an attack on the country’s military base in the region.

As the country woke to reports of a mortar bomb attack in one of South Africa’s military bases in the DRC, which left two soldiers dead and three injured, concerns have been raised over the safety of the remaining deployed soldiers.

The South African contingency was part of the SADC mission in the DRC deployed to support and assist the DRC government in its efforts to bring peace, security and stability in the region.

Advocate Pikkie Greeff, the national secretary for Sandu, said while they were confident about the government’s ability to train soldiers, they were concerned about the need for additional support and resources.

“There can be no doubt about the training of our soldiers. It is very high rating, and troop preparedness and readiness are also very high. Some experts, however, have expressed concern that this deployment needs more support in terms of cover, such as firepower from the air for our deployed members, and it is clear this would be a great deterrent to future attacks,” Greeff said.

However, many have decried the deployment of as many as 2 900 SANDF members to the eastern DRC as reckless and irrational and have called for it to be reversed, especially after an attack on the South African Air Force (SAAF) earlier this month.

An SAAF Oryx medium transport helicopter was hit dozens of times by small arms fire while carrying out a casualty evacuation in the DRC.

Sources said the aircraft-1247 from 22 Squadron was hit more than 40 times, resulting in injury to the commander as well as a medic in the cabin.

Although it’s not clear who was firing in that incident, it’s thought that M23 rebels were behind the attack.

The DA’s Kobus Marais blamed the recent deaths on President Cyril Ramaphosa, as he stressed that the country’s defence force simply did not have the capacity to effectively pursue an anti-insurgency campaign against the M23 rebels and neither did it have the prime mission equipment to support the ground forces.

“What Ramaphosa is doing is sending the members to their deaths and the only outcome from this reckless deployment will be more body bags coming back home. It is clear that the M23 rebels, using their familiarity with the territory, are resorting to tactical ambushes of the SANDF to inflict maximum harm on our troops.

“Even more troubling is that Ramaphosa is sending our troops to an active war zone unprepared and with limited military hardware to navigate the complex terrain,” Marais said.

The Star

Goitsemang Matlhabe and Hope Mafu