Wounded soldiers praised for courage

2013-03-28 22:31
SANDF (Picture: AFP)

SANDF (Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - Defence Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla visited the South African soldiers who were wounded in the Central African Republic (CAR), at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria on Thursday.

"Tough experience... the work you are doing, you know makes you vulnerable," he said.

The soldiers were wounded on Saturday in a battle with CAR rebels lasting more than 13 hours.

Thirteen of them were killed and 27 were injured.

"You will be called a scarred soldier. You live with the experience. Some died with the first bullet," he told Warrant Officer Zwelithini Nkosi, 48, Sergeant Gideon Maragelo, 37, and Corporal Andrew Short.

"Not many of us go through that experience."

Makwetla said he was encouraged by the spirit of the South African soldiers who had stood their ground when they were attacked by more than 3 000 rebels.

Nkosi told Makwetla it was their job to fight.

"There is nothing wrong. This is how we live," Nkosi said in a faint voice.

Earlier, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula handed over the remains of the 13 soldiers killed in the CAR to their families at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria.

She described them as heroes who had been determined to fight until the last bullet.

A memorial service for the fallen soldiers is to be held on Tuesday in Pretoria.

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