Mapisa-Nqakula denies CAR report

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says it is incorrect that troops were in CAR to defend business interests.

FILE: South African troops patrol on January 10, 2013 a position in Bangui in the Central African Republic. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula vehemently denied claims that South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers were sent to protect individual assets in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The minister was grilled in Parliament on Thursday about the deployment of South African troops to the troubled country.

She also had to explain the events that led to deaths of 13 soldiers.

The SANDF members were killed when rebels took control of the capital Bangui in March.

According to a report in the Mail & Guardian, troops were deployed to defend the business interests of politically connected individuals.

The ANC has denied the allegations.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the claims were simply untrue.

"It is incorrect that we would take soldiers [and send to the CAR] to defend individual interests."

President Jacob Zuma has since taken a decision to withdraw troops from the troubled country.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said South Africa was always ready to take on peacekeeping and capacity building operations on the continent.

She was speaking in Pretoria after Wednesday's summit in Chad, where Zuma announced he was bringing the troops home.

Nkoane-Mashebane said Zuma answered in the affirmative when asked by his counterparts at the N'Jamena summit whether South Africa was prepared to help the Economic Community of Central African States.

"South Africa will always be there when called upon to serve our continent informed by what our foreign policy says."