Pretoria: The South African National Defence (SANDF) says it is prepared to send more artillery to the DRC should the United Nations send them a request.
SANDF joint operations chief LT-General Derrick Mgwebi said the UN was yet to sign the required documents for the additional weaponry to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“We have said to them we are ready and this is what it is going to mean to you [financially] as the UN, the rates. The ball is in their court, not in South Africa’s,” said Mgwebi, adding that the United Nations was in charge of the operation.
Mgwebi was briefing reporters on Friday in Pretoria on the deployment of South African troops in the DRC.
Last week, President Jacob Zuma informed Parliament of the deployment of 1 345 members of the SANDF for service in the DRC.
According to the Presidency, the move was to help South Africa fulfil its international obligations towards the United Nations.
The members will participate in the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) as part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), flowing from the mandate as reflected in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2098.
Mgwebi said nine soldiers sustained injuries and one soldier from Tanzania died in hospital. Of the injured, three South African soldiers sustained minor injuries.
“The families of the soldiers have been informed … and they understand the situation,” said Mgwebi.
The soldiers have been given the opportunity to speak to their families.
Mgwebi said the SANDF soldiers in the DRC were well equipped. The SANDF has since 1999 been involved in the UN peace-keeping mission in the DRC.
The initial directive from the UN was that the SANDF would protect civilians, assets and facilities. This also includes providing training.
Last week, Zuma said: “Our soldiers are doing exceptionally well in the continent. We congratulate them and assure them of the support of their compatriots as they continue to contribute to the building of a better Africa, as a force for peace.
“We are very proud of them and their contribution to African renewal and development.”