27 March 2013

South Africa: SANDF Ceremonies for Killed Troops

Photo: enewschannel
Central African Republic mission.

Johannesburg — A ceremony to receive the remains of 13 troops killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) will be held on Thursday in Pretoria, the SA National Defence Force said.

The SANDF said in a statement that the ceremony would be held at Waterkloof Air Force Base at Squadron 28 at 2pm.

Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla was expected to attend the ceremony.

A memorial service for the SANDF members would be held on Tuesday at 11am at the Thaba Tshwane City Hall.

The bodies of the 13 soldiers slain in a CAR conflict over the weekend arrived in South Africa on Tuesday evening. Those killed were all part of One Parachute Battalion.

A further 27 troops were wounded. One man, Lance Corporal Makwenkwe Daniel Tats, was initially reported missing in action, but was later found alive.

SANDF spokesman Xolani Mabanga said it was up to the families of the dead soldiers to decide whether they wanted semi- or full-military funeral services for their loved ones.

"There are no SANDF troops that have been held captives or as prisoners of war, according to the reports in our disposal," he said.

Earlier, Mabanga rejected reports that CAR troops attacked and killed SANDF soldiers.

"The SANDF would like to distance itself from such allegations and reports at this stage."

The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that mutinous government forces in revolt against CAR President Francois Bozize shot dead the first South African soldiers, and not rebels.

It said detailed reports emerged on Tuesday about how CAR government soldiers carried out and carefully planned attacks on South African troops, who, for the past six years, had been training and equipping their counterparts.

During media briefings held on Monday there were conflicting reports on the exact size of the rebel force.

Zuma said there were 1000, while SANDF chief General Solly Shoke put the number at 3000.

Zuma also said the South African government had not decided to withdraw the army from the CAR.

When asked on Wednesday about troop movements or withdrawal, Mabanga said: "Nothing has changed".

"The situation [in the CAR] remains calm," Mabanga said.

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