'Black week' for SA after CAR deaths
"We are deeply saddened by this incident," secretary for defence Sam Gulube said on Friday. He was speaking at the opening of the Rand Easter Show in Nasrec south of Johannesburg.
"Some say, time is supposed to heal everything, from my experience during the years of the liberation struggle, as a soldier, I learnt that it is not true. "The years pass and the ache remains. But in time, that flash of sharp pain is dulled by other instances filled with memories of the good times we had with our beloved."
Thirteen SA soldiers were killed and 27 injured during a battle with rebels in Bangui on Saturday. He described the soldiers as great South African warriors who bravely fought a good battle.
The soldiers were: Corporals Mokgadi Darius Seakamela and Ntebaleng Andrew Mogorosi. Lance Corporals Daniel Sello Molara and Lukas Mohapi Tsheke. Riflemen Lesego Maxwell Hertzog Lebatlang, Zamani Jim Mxhosana, Xolani Dlamini, Vusumzi Joseph Ngaleka, Karabo Edwin Matsheka, Khomotso Paul Msenga, Maleisane Samuel Thulo, Motsamai William Bojane and Thabiso Anthon Phirimana.
They were all part of the One Parachute Battalion. A memorial service for the fallen soldiers is to be held on Tuesday in Pretoria. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqacula handed over the soldiers' remains to their families on Thursday. They were part of 200 soldiers deployed to CAR earlier this year. SANDF members had been deployed in CAR since 2007, following a memorandum of understanding between the two countries which resulted in a SANDF contingent being based in CAR for "training and capacity building purposes".
Bravery and honour
"They fought side by side as true soldiers fighting off large group of rebels. Though it may seem as they were out-numbered, they were able to hold their own in a battle that lasted over nine hours," Gulube said. He said the department of defence was proud of these soldiers. "In their death we find strength to carry on delivering on our constitutional mandate to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of South Africa and to provide support to her people."
Gulube said the aim of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) participation at the Rand Show was to display, demonstrate and exhibit the SANDF's capabilities which ensure that the people of South Africa were safe and feel safe.
"The show provides the DOD [department of defence] with the necessary platform to engage and interact with the people of South Africa on our core business in securing the Republic and our support to her people." – Sapa