SANDF Army Gen Solly Shoke arrives at the De Brug Barracks in Bloemfontein. PHOTOS: ANA

BLOEMFONTEIN - South Africa on Tuesday observed the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in Bloemfontein, where a wall of remembrance was unveiled in honour of soldiers killed on peace missions in Africa.

More than 50 South African soldiers have been killed in Blue Helmets' missions in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief  General Solly Shoke, who joined families of the army personnel that died while on United Nations peacekeeping missions at the De Brug Barracks in Bloemfontein, said peace does not come cheap and he was proud of his troops.

“I am proud and honoured to stand before you as the commander-in-chief of the SANDF. We are proud as a country and as a people for helping keep peace in our continent while we mourn our casualties,” said Shoke. 

Relatives of Slain soldiers put wrath on the remembrance wall

SANDF Chaplain General Monwabisi Jamangile also honoured soldiers saying they were "a special breed" that protects and defends human life by giving up the right to be with their families and friends.

South African soldier killed in battle in DRC

“A soldier gives up the right to life and liberty in pursuance of happiness for his or her people. He makes his or her tent home sweet home. When we look at you that have survived, we see courage in you, we see faith in you," said Monwabisi. 

"Chief Shoke said the departed were basking in the sun which shall never set. They pluck fruit from a tree which will never wither. They rest in the shadow of the lord. God speaks the last word.”

So far, South Africa has taken part in 14 peace mission since 1999. 

SANDF personnel

South African troops have served in United Nation and African Union missions in Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, DRC, Central African Republic, Sudan, Comoros and Liberia among others.

This year, the United Nations celebrates the 70th anniversary of UN peacekeeping with the theme "70 Years of Service and Sacrifice".

The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29 May 1948. 

Today, UN peacekeeping deploys more than 100,000 military police personnel in 14 peacekeeping operations on four continents.

African News Agency/ANA