SA troops fought child soldiers

South African soldiers were however unaware they were shooting at children.

South African soldiers were unaware they were shooting at children.

JOHANNESBURG - South African troops have described how they killed children during their offensive against rebels in Central African Republic (CAR) last week.

13 South African soldiers died and 27 were wounded when they tried to prevent the Seleka rebels from taking the capital, Bangui.

The Sunday Times has quoted troops as saying, only when firing stopped after the battle, were they made aware that they had been shooting at child soldiers.

At the same time one South African soldier told the City Press that their mission assignments were constantly changed and that they were first told they were there to train CAR soldiers.

Soldiers were then ordered to protect South African property and finally, they were told to protect civilians around the capital.

While the presidency prepares for a summit to find a solution to the volatile situation in the CAR, the South African National Defence Union (SANDU) has demanded R1,5million in damages from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The union has accused the SANDF of issuing an inflammatory statement, where it called the union an agency hell-bent on opposing transformation.

This comes after the union issued statements blaming President Jacob Zuma and military leaders for the deaths of the 13 soldiers.

“The Defence Force has now, in accordance of our attorney’s letter, got 30 days to pay the amount of damages that is proposed in the letter of demand,” said SANDU's Pikkie Greeff.

“If that 30 day period lapses without any reaction from their side, we will issue the actual summons."

But the SANDF's Xolani Mabanga said they will not apologise for their comments.

“As the South African National Defence Force, we are not going to withdraw that statement, neither are we going to apologise.

“We stick to what we said.”