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Cape Town - Eleven soldiers have been convicted of the assault of a 17-year-old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a "ground-breaking trial" in the military court, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said in a statement on Monday.

Sixteen SANDF members attached to the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) of Operation MISTRAL in the DRC were charged under the Prevention of Combating and Torture of Persons Act for the first time.

"Of the original 16 accused, 11 were convicted. Five of the accused were acquitted,"  the SANDF said in a statement.

"Even though no accused were convicted of contravening the provisions of the Prevention of Combating and Torture of Persons Act, they were found guilty of common law assault, this case cleared the way for the future application of the Act."

The incident took place in January this year.

"Three South African soldiers caught a male Congolese citizen, aged 17, who was suspected of stealing plastic basins and buckets belonging to South African soldiers and took him inside the military base where he was assaulted, sustaining a minor wound as a result."

African News Agency (ANA)