SA ‘ready to send more artillery to DRC’

30 August 2013

The South African National Defence (SANDF) says it is prepared to send more artillery to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should the United Nations request it.

Briefing reporters in Pretoria on Friday on the deployment of South African troops in the DRC, SANDF joint operations chief Lietenant-General Derrick Mgwebi said the UN had yet to sign the documents for the additional weaponry to be sent to the DRC.

“We have said to them we are ready and this is what it is going to mean to you [financially] as the UN, the rates. The ball is in their court, not in South Africa’s,” Mgwebi said, adding that the United Nations was in charge of the operation.

Last week, President Jacob Zuma informed Parliament of the deployment of 1 345 SANDF troops in the DRC as part of a UN mission in that country. According to the Presidency, the deployment was in line with South Africa’s obligations to the United Nations.

The SANDF has been involved in the UN peace-keeping mission in the DRC since 1999. The initial directive from the UN was that the SANDF would help to protect civilians, assets and facilities, as well as provide training.

Mgwebi said that nine soldiers that are part of this mission had sustained injuries in clashes this week, and that one soldier, from Tanzania, had died in hospital. Of the injured, three South African soldiers had sustained minor injuries.

“The families of the soldiers have been informed … and they understand the situation,” Mgwebi said, adding that the soldiers had been given the opportunity to speak to their families.

Mgwebi said the SANDF soldiers in the DRC were well-equipped.

Last week, Zuma said: “Our soldiers are doing exceptionally well on the continent. We congratulate them and assure them of the support of their compatriots as they continue to contribute to the building of a better Africa, as a force for peace.

“We are very proud of them and their contribution to African renewal and development.”