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SANDF members living in dismal circumstances: 600 troops share six pit latrines

Neelam Rahim | neelam@radioislam.co.za

3-minute read
02 April 2024 | 17:41 CAT

Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA/BUSINESS DAY

Hundreds of South African soldiers are living in deplorable circumstances after being deployed to different countries. It has emerged that more than 600 South African soldiers who were recently deployed to the Southern African Development Community or SADC Mission in the DRC have to do without the most basic living conditions, including field kitchens, which have not yet been delivered.

Meals are currently being prepared on a few gas burners in the open air. No doctors or nurses were deployed with the troops, so they had to depend on the first aid bag that medical orderlies carried with them in an emergency.

In an interview with Radio Islam International, Defence Expert Helmoed Heitman highlighted the main issue: the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) currently does not have a single cargo plane to carry equipment to the deployed troops.

The DRC government promised cargo flights but did not keep its word, presumably because the country’s air force operates a single Ilyushin 76 that is apparently unserviceable.

“There is no airlift, the Airforce only has one of its Hercules working which may not be working at the moment. Furthermore, Angola, which has lots of airlift transport is not playing its part adding to the primary problem,” Heitman explained.

In addition, there are no bathrooms or toilet facilities for the 600 soldiers, except for six pit toilets – two reserved for the 40 women in the contingent. The normal ratio is usually at least one toilet for 50 soldiers.

Meanwhile, there is limited money to pay for supplies.

According to City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, food deliveries to the two bases at Goma and Sake are under pressure. Soldiers may have to go without fresh food, proper medical care, and other necessities.

Experts warned that the deployment of a promised force of 2 900 soldiers as part of the SAMIDRC amounted to a suicide mission.

Earlier, there was even a mini-rebellion among the army, air force, navy and SA Military Health Services chiefs when they wanted to tell President Cyril Ramaphosa that the SANDF could not handle another deployment abroad within its budgetary constraints.

Listen to the full interview on Radio Islam International with Muallimah Annisa Essack and Defence Expert Helmoed Heitman.

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