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Cape Town - The SANDF declined to comment on Sunday on the details of a leaked internal letter on logistical problems that left soldiers in the Central African Republic without necessary equipment when Seleka rebels moved into the capital, Bangui.
Thirteen soldiers died during the battles in March, and another two died of their injuries in South Africa.
After the incident, opposition political parties asked whether the SANDF troops had been deployed in accordance with the legally required presidential notice to Parliament, and exactly what role the troops had in the Central African country.
“It must be pointed out that several sessions of analysis and scenarios have been held to draw up lessons learnt in that incident, as is the case with all other missions we have undertaken,” the SANDF said.
“It must be, however, stated that our members had not gone to that mission to fight, but as trainers. Unfortunately they came under attack and fought a heroic battle, as can be attested to by defence experts and analysts.”
It was “very unfortunate that an internal document and such a matter of this nature found itself on to your desk”, the SANDF added.
However, the leaked letter of mid-June, signed by chief joint operations Lieutenant-General DM Mgwebi, outlines how on March 22 it became clear a private charter plane was needed to transport rations, water, combat support vehicles and other equipment “to respond to critical operational requirements”.
But this proved impossible: like the SANDF, none of the five service providers had planes available, and the one eventually chartered at R11 million arrived in Uganda on March 30.