South African soldier killed by ’friendly fire’ in DRC

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PRETORIA – A member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed on the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was shot and killed in friendly fire during a operation on Thursday morning.

The soldier was killed in Kilia in eastern DRC, SANDF national spokesman Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said in a statement.

“Details of this unfortunate incident are still sketchy at the moment, and a board of inquiry has been convened to investigate the causes that led to this incident,” he said, adding that the identity of the deceased soldier would be confirmed once SANDF had formally informed next of kin.

“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Thabang Makwetla, the Secretary for Defence, Ms Sonto Kudjoe, and the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphwanya extend their heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased.”

In a telephone interview, Mgobozi told the African News Agency that “friendly fire” meant tje soldier was not killed by enemy forces.

“The fire was coming from one’s own forces. Let me put it like this, if we are talking about the allied forces in Iraq, when they talk about friendly fire, it means it was fire coming from the forces deployed,” said Mgobozi.

“So on the DRC matter, it was not fire from the enemy. It was from our own alliance, one’s comrades, so to speak.”

In 2019, there were almost 1,500 South African soldiers deployed for peacekeeping under the auspices of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).