CAR descends into chaos; SA soldiers want out

EWN's Africa Correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish reports on the day's top African news

A video grab shows overloaded cars and suspected looters carrying goods in a street in Bangui on March 24, 2013. Looters and armed gangs roamed the streets of the Central African Republic capital after rebels seized control of the city. Picture: AFP

PRETORIA - After taking heavy losses during a clash with Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday, South African soldiers are seeking safe passage to the airport.

At least six people were killed and the death toll is expected to rise.

Additionally, it is unknown how many South African soldiers are still missing.

Two South African Air Force transporters bearing rescue call signs left Waterkloof Air Force base on Sunday and are believed to be on their way to evacuate the wounded in Entebbe, Uganda.


A power-sharing deal that was made two months ago between the rebels and President Fran├žois Bozize broke down last week, sending the region into chaos.

Rebel spokesperson Eric Massi said the Seleka rebels had broken through a line of South African soldiers during their push into the capital city of Bangui.

Whilst the country descends into chaos with shooting, destruction of United Nations' (UN) property, and looting on the streets, Bozize has escaped the CAR and he and his family have taken refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


On Monday, 567 CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies spoke to Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga, the South African National Defence Force's Communications Director, who announced that they would be sending more troops to the CAR.

This announcement by the SANDF is in stark contrast with that of the UN which said they will be moving their peacekeepers out of the CAR as quickly as possible.

The South African contingent in the CAR is made up of two dozen military trainers who have been in the country in terms of a bilateral agreement.

When the trouble between Seleka rebels and Bozize's supporters began, South Africa sent 250 troops to protect the deployed trainers and South African property, with the authorisation for as many as 400 troops.

The battle is now on to get South Africans and other peacekeepers out of the CAR.

Only then can questions be asked about why South Africans were there in the first place.

SANDF's Head of Defence, Solly Shokwe, will be briefing press on Monday.

The fifth annual BRICS Summit kicks off

On Sunday, South African diplomats expressed enthusiasm ahead of the arrival of leaders from other Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries for a two-day summit held at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC).

This summit, known as "Brics and AFRICA: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation", will see leaders discuss ways to give developing countries a bigger voice in world politics and improve their economies.

The official website for the summit,, states that BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all leading emerging economies, aims to achieve peace, security, development and cooperation, as well as a common ground on areas of importance for the BRICS economies.

It is believed that the heads of government in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will be launching a development bank.

The big question being asked is if South Africa is really entitled to be a member of BRICS.

The size of the South African economy and the weight of the country, economically, do not truly correspond with that of the other member states.

However, South Africa is the gateway to Africa for the Bric nations.

President Jacob Zuma, who is briefing at the summit on Monday, is intensively engaging African leaders with the other Brics leaders.

Thus, Zuma will be putting a very heavy African accent on the summit, making this hugely important for both the country and the continent.