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Thandi Modise urged to act after video shows SANDF soldiers allegedly throwing corpses on burning heap

Defence Minister Thandi Modise. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Defence Minister Thandi Modise. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 12, 2023


Pretoria - Pressure is mounting on Defence Minister Thandi Modise to act against SANDF members who allegedly threw corpses on a burning heap in Mozambique.

While the SANDF has already indicated that it would not be taking action against them, political parties and civil society organisations are threatening legal and political action to force the minister to act.

Cope is the latest political party to express its disgust at the video circulating on social media. Cope national spokesperson Dennis Bloem said his party was calling on Modise to withdraw the soldiers implicated immediately.

“Minister of Defence Thandi Modise must immediately withdraw the soldiers of SANDF who are deployed in Mozambique and can be seen in a video in an incident where soldiers are throwing bodies on a pile of burning rubbish.

A screenshot of the video which has gone viral on social media showing some members of the SANDF allegedly participating in activities against the laws of armed conflict.

“This is immoral and must never be allowed anywhere in the world. It must be condemned,” Bloem said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Freedom Front Plus leader Dr Pieter Groenewald, who also wants the minister to take action.

“The Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, must provide answers as to why no action has been taken against soldiers of the South African Defence Force who may possibly have committed a war crime in Mozambique.

“A brutal video currently doing the rounds on social media clearly shows South African soldiers being present while corpses are piled up on a burning heap,” Groenewald said.

He said the soldiers were clearly recognisable due to their South African Defence Force uniform depicting the country’s flag.

According to a media statement issued by the SANDF, the incident could have transpired in November 2022 in Mozambique, where South African soldiers are deployed.

The statement adds that the identities of the soldiers were “unknown” and that the incident would be investigated.

“The minister must find out why the incident, which reportedly transpired months ago already, has only come to the defence force’s attention now after it has been widely shared on social media.

“Everything seems to point to the incident being a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which makes it a war crime,” he said.

Groenewald said the government and the defence force must be swift to act against the relevant soldiers to demonstrate to the international community that it was serious about addressing the matter.

South African soldiers have been part of the Southern African Development Community’s intervention force in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique for years.

Initially, about 1 495 soldiers would have been deployed, but according to the media, only 500 had been deployed by April last year.

Groenewald said the soldiers’ deployment in Mozambique cost South African taxpayers R2.8 billion for just last year.

Like the political parties, AfriForum is also demanding that the commander of the South African forces in Mozambique be recalled immediately to testify about the shocking events.

AfriForum said it was not the first time South African soldiers had been accused of human rights violations.

Jacques Broodyrk, an AfriForum spokesperson, said several SANDF soldiers had been accused of sexual misconduct during operations in the DRC.

“Then there was also the case of Collins Khosa, beaten to death by soldiers in his own backyard here on home soil.

“We are aware that the SANDF said the incident was being investigated by the force commander of the SADC Mission in Mozambique, but we feel this is simply not enough. AfriForum is currently consulting with our legal team to explore other possible actions as well,” Broodryk said.

Pretoria News