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A critically injured SA captain from the Southern Africa regional force (Samidrc) in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) died waiting for an ambulance to arrive after a mortar attack.

This is the fourth major attack in which SA soldiers were killed in confrontations with M23 after the Samidrc deployment started in December. With the latest casualties, the death toll on SA’s side reached nine, with scores injured.

Another SA captain from the Intelligence Formation was killed on impact when a mortar was fired by the M23 rebels at the SA logistics base at Sake late Tuesday afternoon.

A SA national contingent commander, Col Jaco Pietersen, was also wounded by shrapnel when the M23 rebels fired on the base — apparently in retaliation. Pietersen underwent an operation on Tuesday night to remove the shrapnel from his chest.

From internal messages within the defence force, the one deceased is named only as Capt Maringa from 24 SA Brigade in Johannesburg, and the other as Capt Kgopane originally from the Air Defence Artillery Formation. Both served in the Intelligence Formation.

One of the 15 wounded SA soldiers lost an arm, while another is in a critical condition after shrapnel hit him in the stomach. They are being treated in hospital in Goma. Samidrc has to rely on the hospital for medical emergencies as the force only have operational medics and not any advanced field hospitals with doctors.

In February two SA soldiers died when a mortar hit the same Sake base. In April three soldiers were killed in another mortar attack. Another SA soldier died while receiving treatment due to unrelated health challenges in Goma’s hospital.

In May a SA medical orderly driving a Mfezi armoured ambulance was killed in an ambush when the rebels lobbed a mortar into the ambulance. Various military vehicles were also stuck in enemy territory after getting ambushed.

Most of the 2,900 soldiers President Cyril Ramaphosa committed to Samidrc have since arrived in DRC.


SA National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini confirmed the casualties. In a statement released on Wednesday, Dlamini said 20 soldiers were injured.

“Four members who were critically injured have been hospitalised, while the rest who suffered minor injuries are expected to be discharged soon. Families of the two members who lost their lives have been informed and all procedures to bring their mortal remains are in process. The names of the deceased will be communicated in due course,” Dlamini said.

Tuesday’s attack came as Samidrc and the FARDC have been pounding M23 strongholds in the hills surrounding Goma and Sake relentlessly over the past two weeks.

The attack on Sake, which is considered a “soft target” as the logistic support base to Goma where the fighting forces are stationed, followed the same pattern as the very first attack on the South Africans in February, in which two soldiers were also killed.

Business Day recently received information from concerned tactical intelligence battlefield surveillance operators in the area about shortcomings in their command-and-control group’s decision making.

Some in the command group allegedly lack operational experience in real combat circumstances placing not only their own, but also the FARDC forces in danger. These operators have to supply information from the front lines about enemy positions for the fighting forces to direct their operations and fire.

In an internal message to members, Brig Fikile Kunjwayo, the general officer commanding the Intelligence Formation, said the two captains paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty during our peacekeeping mission in DRC.

“Their dedication to our country and their commitment to peace will never be forgotten.”

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