Johannesburg - Political parties, civil rights organisations and South Africans at large have spoken out against the barbaric act witnessed in a viral video that showed some members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) participating in activities against the laws of armed conflict.
The SANDF said it was recently made aware of a video clip circulating on social media depicting members in Mozambique throwing dead bodies in a pile of burning rubble, as well as the SANDF member(s) standing around watching them.
"The incident is believed to have taken place during the month of November 2022 in Mozambique, where South Africa has committed forces as part of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). Once the forces are committed, they form part of a combined force and fall under the command and control of SAMIM. South Africa only supports their mission logistically," said SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Andries Mokoena Mahapa.
Mahapa said the force commander of SAMIM is conducting an investigation surrounding the involvement of its members in this despicable act.
"The SANDF does not condone in any way the acts committed in the video, and those who are found guilty of such acts will be brought to book," Mahapoa said.
In a media statement, SAMIM said it takes note of the viral video clip circulating on social media.
"The SAMIM force commander is unable to confirm that the incident occurred within his area of responsibility. However, the SAMIM force commander has convened a board of inquiry to thoroughly investigate the circumstances around the matter at issue. The members of the general public will be promptly taken into confidence about the findings of the board of inquiry as soon as it is finalised," said SAMIM.
It said further that the force is a reputable, efficient, and responsive enabler of regional integration and sustainable development.
"SAMIM reiterates its allegiance to acting within the confines of all applicable laws during its presence in Mozambique," said the force.
The EFF demanded that the government hold the commander of the SANDF battalion deployed to the SADC Mission in Mozambique accountable, and provide clarity on the identity of the rogue military servicemen of the South African army who were complicit in the violation of the Geneva Convention and Additional Protocols' permissible conduct of war and peacekeeping.
"The South African government is a signatory to these international instruments which regulate the conduct of armed conflict. The Protocols protect people who are no longer able to participate in the conflict, including the injured and dead enemy forces," said EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo.
Freedom Front Plus leader, Dr Pieter Groenewald said Defence Minister Thandi Modise must provide answers as to why no action has been taken against soldiers of the SANDF who may possibly have committed a war crime in Mozambique.
Groenewald said the soldiers are clearly recognisable due to their SANDF uniforms, which depict the country's flag.
"Modise 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 Convention, which makes it a war crime. Government and the defence force must be swift to act against the relevant soldiers to demonstrate to the international community that it is serious about addressing the matter," Groenewald said.
The civil rights organisation AfriForum also demands that the commander of the SANDF in Mozambique be recalled immediately to testify about the shocking events.
"We are aware that the SANDF said the incident is 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," said AfriForum spokesperson for community safety, Jacques Broodryk.