Zuma: SA's CAR troops were 'special'

President Jacob Zuma says the 13 soldiers who died in CAR were brave men who served SA.

SANDF soldiers carry the bodies of their colleagues killed in the Central African Republic on 24 March 2013. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma today dismissed questions about the Central African Republic (CAR) deployment as the "peddling of unfounded allegations and conspiracy theories".

Zuma was speaking at the memorial service being held at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria for 13 soldiers who died in a battle against rebels in the CAR in March.

A commander who led the soldiers described them as "tigers who waited for his orders" and as "lions who fought ferociously".

Zuma dismissed claims that the soldiers were sent to protect private business interests or a dictator.

"When future generations ask what kind of men and women gave so much of their lives to the service of South Africa and the continent we will be able to say how special they were to put their lives at risk for such a mission."

The memorial service was attended by hundreds of guests, with many soldiers from various divisions of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

On Monday, the ANC also reiterated that it has no business links in the CAR, and it slammed reports that suggested otherwise as "damaging and malicious lies".

The ruling party's spokesperson Keith Khoza insisted the ANC has no business interests in that country.

Click here to read President Jacob Zuma's message to the fallen soldiers' families.