Bodies of Parabats killed in CAR back in SA

2013-03-26 20:45

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Johannesburg - The bodies of 13 soldiers killed by rebels in the Central African Republic arrived in South Africa on Tuesday evening, the military said.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesperson Brigadier Geneneral Xolani Mabanga said the soldiers' remains had arrived by 20:00 on Tuesday.

He said details of a military receival of mortal remains ceremony would be announced on Wednesday.

The families would then decide whether they wanted military funerals for their loved ones.

Earlier, the SANDF released the names of the 13 soldiers killed in CAR.

It said Corporals Mokgadi Darius Seakamela and Ntebaleng Andrew Mogorosi, and Lance Corporals Daniel Sello Molara and Lukas Mohapi Tsheke were among those killed on Sunday.

The Riflemen killed were: Lesego Maxwell Hertzog, Zamani Jim Mxhosana, Xolani Dlamini, Vusumzi Joseph Ngaleka, Karabo Edwin Matsheka, Khomotso Paul Msenga, Maleisane Samuel Thulo, Motsamai William Bojane, and Thabiso Anthon Phirimana.

All of those killed were members of One Parachute Battalion, from Bloemfontein.

"In addition, the SANDF would like to report that the member who was reported missing in action has been found alive and is in good spirit[s]," the SANDF said in a statement.

Apart from those killed, 27 SANDF members were wounded when more than 200 South African soldiers fought an armed force of about 3 000-strong.

Mabanga said he could not verify rumours that around 40 troops were being held captive by rebels in the CAR.

"We have not heard of that," he said.

Disaster

Mabanga said on Tuesday morning that the CAR rebels regretted the action which led to the deaths of the South African troops.

"On Sunday morning the leaders of the rebels came to the base, and discussed what happened on the ground, and they regretted exchanging fire with SANDF soldiers," he said.

"Since then, there hasn't been any threatening situation against the SANDF. We are not taking anything lightly and are taking all precautionary measures to ensure SANDF members are safe on the ground."

Mabanga said the SANDF had not received any instructions regarding troop movements, and he could not comment about media reports alleging what happened on the ground.

"We cannot comment on reports by the media based on allegations," he said.

Beeld newspaper reported on Tuesday that beyond the official toll of those injured, killed and missing, six special forces operators were also killed in the fighting.

The newspaper reported that the SANDF had become a target for reportedly helping CAR President Francois Bozize flee the country into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the report, top structures were warned by senior SANDF officers last week that the CAR mission amounted to "suicide".

SA Air Force aircraft were also put on standby on Monday night, although due to financial constraints the Gripens were not armed with weapons with an attack capacity.

SANDF soldiers reportedly struggled on the ground due to a lack of logistics and air support.

Soldiers had to ask French parachutists for essential equipment, with only one doctor present, with a backpack for medical support.

The report also stated that renewed fighting broke out on Monday between SANDF soldiers and rebels.

The Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday that new reports on the "disaster" in CAR showed the need for a parliamentary inquiry.

"The SANDF soldiers evidently acquitted themselves well under fire, in circumstances where they were vastly outnumbered by rebel forces," said DA defence spokesperson David Maynier in a statement.

"But in the end, they appear to have been left dangling, without the necessary military support. We need to get to the bottom of why the SANDF was deployed in the CAR, effectively to support President Francois Bozize."

He said it also needed to be known how the 13 soldiers died in the CAR.

The DA had written to the speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu, requesting the establishment of a multi-party ad hoc committee to conduct an inquiry on the SANDF's deployment in CAR.

"In the end, President Jacob Zuma’s decision to deploy the SANDF in the CAR - effectively to support President Francois Bozize - has been a complete disaster," said Maynier.

- SAPA
Read more on:    da  |  sandf  |  francois bozize  |  david maynier  |  jacob zuma  |  central african republic  |  car uprisings  |  central africa  |  military
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