Durban - Messages of condolences have been streaming in after SANDF solider Vusi Mabena was killed on Sunday in Congo.
SANDF spokesperson, Siphiwe Dlamini said the soldier was killed during an incident where an Oryx helicopter came under fire in Goma.
“A crew member was fatally shot, another suffered injuries but managed to continue flying the chopper and landed safely at Goma Airport,” Dlamini said.
Captain Mathew Allan, who is from Durban, paid tribute to Vusi Mabena on Facebook, describing him as a legend.
“I will never forget you brother! One in a million kind of guy on the ground and in the air! Memories with you will never be forgotten! Rest in peace brother.”
According to News24, Mabena, who is from Pretoria, did not die instantly but died before they could reach Goma Airport.
Pilot in command, Major Omolemo Matlapeng, was struck in the shoulder by the same bullet and underwent surgery when the chopper landed.
News24 said according to their sources the shot was fired from a from a 7.62 calibre Dragunov sniper rifle.
Eastern DRC is home to multiple armed groups, including the rebel M23 force, that have been fighting a campaign against government troops in recent months.
Government troops are supported by the UN mission, known by its French acronym Monusco, as part of its protection-of-civilians mandate, IOL reported.
Social media users posted:
Angel Benge: “This is heartbreaking that our brother has fallen RIP Vusi you'll be forever missed to hes family we pray they find peace and forgiveness in their hearts for a son has been taken so young and to the crew pray for speedy recovery through such painful times.”
Erika Gibson: “RIP Vusi and thank you Mathew for doing your best to get them both back to safety. Much respect for you all.”
Nicolene de Kock: “A moment of silent for your crew Mabena. May he rest now for his duty is completed. Sorry for your loss. Thank you for your bravery.”