Zuma to face families of slain soldiers

The President will meet with families of the 13 slain soldiers at a memorial service in Pretoria.

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

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma will face the families of soldiers who were killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) when he attends a memorial service in Pretoria on Tuesday morning.

The 13 South African troops died while almost 30 others were injured in a battle against CAR Seleka rebels just over a week ago.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said all but 10 soldiers have been discharged from hospital.

The President will attend the memorial service before flying out to Chad to attend an emergency meeting on the situation in the CAR.

Meanwhile, the SANDF said it hasn't received any reports that child soldiers may have been used by rebel forces against South African troops.

The SANDF's Xolani Mabanga said, "If these people who were firing at us happened to be children then there is something that has to be done. They were old enough to get a gun and point at us."

At the same time the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would table a motion in parliament to force Zuma to withdraw troops from the CAR.

The DA's draft resolution will be sent to National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu as Parliament is currently in recess.

DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko wants an urgent sitting of Parliament to be convened.

"There's absolutely no reason for Parliament not to call members back from the constituency period."

Meanwhile, DA leader Helen Zille said there were many unanswered questions about why SA troops were deployed to CAR.

"South Africa hasn't been given the facts, Parliament has not been given the facts and reports indicate there is far more to this then what meets the eye."

A media reports claims the troops were deployed to protect African National Congress (ANC) business interests.

But the ruling party has denied this.


Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda has reportedly said SA troops are ready to be deployed to the restive eastern region of the DRC.

Last week the United Nations (UN) gave the green light for the deployment of its first ever offensive peace keeping force for Africa to eastern DRC.

The region has been plagued by sporadic conflict for nearly two decades.

As yet the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said it's received no orders from President Jacob Zuma to send more soldiers to the DRC.

The SANDF's Xolani Mabanga said, "The orders that come from the commander-in-chief then goes to the chief of the defence force."

Tshibanda has been quoted as saying the first South African troops to form the brigade have already been transferred from Monusco and are in place.

Monusco is the UN backed peacekeeping force operating in the DRC.

But a deadly warning from one of the main rebel groups in the east of the country doesn't bode well for the SANDF who are still reeling from the deaths of 13 of its members in the Central African Republic.

The M23 rebel group said the UN is choosing to wage war.