CAR survivors visit historical battle sites

2013-06-28 00:00

A GROUP of South African paratroopers who survived the Central African Republic (CAR) battle in March visited various historical battle sites in Ladysmith and Dundee yesterday.

This formed part of the soldiers’ rehabilitation process.

The group’s commander, Colonel Siseko Nombewu, who’s also an instructor at the SANDF infantry school in Oudts­hoorn, said the soldiers were still recovering from the CAR incident, which left 15 of their colleagues dead. The South Africans were sent to the CAR on a peacekeeping mission at the end of December.

“These men are from the 44 Para Regiment in Bloemfontein, where paratroopers are trained. After the CAR incident, we decided, as part of the healing process, to visit various battlefields here in Ladysmith. They are from various parts of the province,” said Nombewu.

Asked to comment about the CAR incident, Nombewu said: “I can’t discuss details of what happened there in March, but these men were engaged in combat”.

The sites visited were Platrand, Ntombi Camp, Blood River/Ncome, Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.

In early March, 13 South African soldiers were killed in the CAR, and another two died later in South Africa of their wounds, when rebel forces took over the capital, Bangui.

A contingent of South African paratroopers and special forces was deployed at a checkpoint on the main supply route to the capital.

On the night of the battle, the rebels had cut the South Africans off from the rest of the forces and a battle ensued.

There was a feeling among some in South Africa that the soldiers had not been given adequate support.

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