Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma is expected to attend a memorial service on Tuesday for the 13 SANDF soldiers killed in the Central African Republic.
The SANDF was expected to hold a second memorial service at 11am at the Thaba Tshwane City Hall. The service Zuma was scheduled to attend would take place at the Swartkop Air Force Base, also at 11am.
The soldiers were killed on Saturday, March 23, during a clash with Seleka rebel forces at the SANDF base outside Bangui. Twenty-seven others were wounded.
Two days after the attack, Zuma said about 200 South African soldiers fought off almost 1 000 rebels. The SANDF was in the CAR as part of a military co-operation agreement signed in 2007.
The SANDF was tasked with building the capacity of the CAR’s army and helping the country plan and implement a process to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate rebel forces into the CAR’s defence force.
Rebels, however, accused President Francois Bozize of failing to keep promises he made, the Associated Press reported. They demanded he send home the South African troops.
Bozize fled the CAR on Sunday, March 24, before rebels overran the city and seized the presidential palace.
The 13 SANDF soldiers have been named: Corporals Mokgadi Darius Seakamela and Ntebaleng Andrew Mogorosi; Lance Corporals Daniel Sello Molara and Lukas Mohapi Tsheke; and riflemen Lesego Maxwell Hertzog, Zamani Jim Mxhosana, Xolani Dlamini, Vusumzi Joseph Ngaleka, Karabo Edwin Matsheka, Khomotso Paul Msenga, Maleisane Samuel Thulo, Motsamai William Bojane, and Thabiso Anthon Phirimana.
All were members of One Parachute Battalion, from Bloemfontein. – Sapa