SANDF tells of tough DRC job
Pretoria - The SA National Defence Force was engaged in a very difficult operation involving the transportation of ballot papers for the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential elections, a senior official said on Tuesday.
"We had so many tons to move and the weather was against us. It was in the rainy season and some of our helicopters cannot move when it's raining. We were also working against time," SA National Defence Force chief of joint operations Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi said in Pretoria.
Mgwebi said the army had been approached by the international relations and co-operation department to help move material for the November 28 polls.
"To execute this operation in the short period, the SANDF chartered various aircraft which included Boeing 747, IL76, MD11, DC9 and a C130. The SANDF transported a total of 1 863 tons of election material with 39 flights using the various aircraft."
Mgwebi said that before the elections the DRC government had asked for further help in distributing and collecting ballot material in the southern parts of the country.
"This additional request required that the SANDF had to deploy additional aircraft and support staff to assist with the distribution. All the assets will return to South Africa after the successful execution of the operation."
The cost of the DRC operation still had to be ascertained.
Violent protests and looting followed the announcement of the results on Friday, leading to a crackdown on protests by the country's military forces. At least four people were reported dead in the unrest.
Mgwebi, however, believed the country was in a position to contain the instability without approaching other countries for assistance.
"In my view, having been there and up to now, in terms of the levels of security, I do not foresee a state where the DRC will be asking anybody to come and help. Remember they also have the Monusco troops there," he said.
Monusco is the acronym used for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Congo.