Car: SA planning to send more troops

2013-05-15 00:00

CAPE TOWN — State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele yesterday gave the strongest indication yet that the government plans to send considerably more soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR).

South Africa originally had 400 troops in the CAR.

Before the debate on his department’s budget speech, Cwele told journalists South Africa could not sit with folded hands while atrocities were being committed in Africa.

He referred specifically to rape, the persecution of Christians and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Asked if he foresaw a larger South African military involvement in the CAR, Cwele said an answer would emerge today from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, at which South Africa would be guided by contributions from the CAR, the African Union and the UN.

Cwele alleged there was an attempt to destabilise Africa and said the CAR was the first domino, which, if it fell, would topple Chad, then the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then the rest of the region, to finally affect South Africa.

Responding to criticism that his department’s lack of reliable information to soldiers in the CAR had contributed to the death of 14 soldiers, Cwele yesterday admitted for the first time that the toppled president François Bozize had left South Africa in the lurch.

He argued that the agreement to deploy troops in the CAR was valid until the moment that SA withdrew its troops. He said South Africa had withdrawn from the CAR because “we do not support coups”.

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