File picture

Johannesburg - The Court of Military Appeal has upheld a 20-year sentence for murder imposed on a South African soldier who fatally shot his girlfriend while they were deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Private Elias Mogaki shot and killed his soldier girlfriend, Private Nomathemba Ngeleka, on Friday 27 October 2017. 

Both members belonged to 5 South African Infantry Battalion in Ladysmith and were at the time of the incident deployed in the DRC as part of the Force Intervention Brigade.

On that fateful day, Mogaki tried to commit suicide immediately after the shooting incident and was medically stabilised in the DRC before being transferred to South Africa for further medical treatment. 

Upon his medical recovery, he was formally charged with murder. On completion of the investigations and the subsequent trial, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Court of a Military Judge on 18 June 2018.  

In a statement on Wednesday, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said the accused was afforded an opportunity to appeal his sentencing. 

"A Court of Military Appeal later confirmed and upheld the 20-year jail sentence as was imposed by the Court of a Military Judge," said the statement.

The South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) was in the process of dishonourably discharging Mogaki, the Brigadier said.

"He is currently detained at the Military Detention Barracks in Bloemfontein. On completion of the required administrative (separation) processes, he will be transferred and handed-over to the Rustenburg Correctional Services facility where he will serve his 20-year prison sentence," explained Brigadier Mgobozi. 

"The SANDF will not tolerate any acts of ill-discipline, criminal activities, conduct detrimental to the Military Disciplinary Code (MDC) and the Code of Conduct amongst all its members, both military and civilian, regardless of position or rank level."   

African News  Agency (ANA)