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Two SANDF soldiers die in alleged murder, suicide shooting in DRC



The soldiers’ bodies are expected to be repatriated to South Africa ‘in due course’.

Two soldiers have died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) announced on Saturday.

The soldiers were declared in an apparent murder and suicide.

“The incident occurred when one of them shot and killed the other with their service weapon before turning the weapon on themselves with fatal consequences,” the SANDF said in a statement.

The defence force revealed that it has convened a board of inquiry to work with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) command to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

ALSO READ: Ntshavheni affirms SANDF’s capabilities amid funding challenges

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise has since expressed her “shock” at the incident.

The soldiers’ bodies are expected to be repatriated to South Africa “in due course”.

“All families have been informed of the unfortunate incident,”\” the statement furthers reads.

Last month, the two soldiers died following a mortar bomb attack inside one of the South African Contingent’s military bases in DRC.

Three others troops sustained injuries during the incident.

SANDF deployment

In February, at least 2 900 SANDF soldiers were deployed provide support in combating illicit armed factions in the eastern region of the DRC.

The deployment was authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa to fulfil the country’s obligation towards the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to the DRC.

According to the Presidency, the year-long and R2 billion deployment would not impact provisions for the cash-strapped SANDF’s regular maintenance and emergency repairs.

There has been calls for the South African army to be withdrawn from the central African country, with opposition criticising the deployment for putting troops’ lives at risk.

READ MORE: ‘Our army can’t look after cabbages’ – Malema calls for SANDF withdrawal from DRC

But Ramaphosa has defended the deployment, saying the SANDF was equipped with the necessary “military hardware” for such missions.

“We are trying to secure the peace in the DRC. It’s quite complex. It’s not an easy situation and the conflict has been going on for quite a while. We already had a situation which led to the shooting of our helicopter and yesterday, we also had two fatalities,” the president told the media during a Q&A session held in Cape Town last month.

“Yes we do have the military hardware to engage in military operations such as those we’re finding in the eastern DRC. South Africa has over many years participated in peacekeeping missions in various parts of our continent,” Ramaphosa added.

Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde

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