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Defence dept. defends CAR mission

Officials continue to ask questions about SA soldiers’ deployment to the CAR.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Sending around 200 soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR) was not a poorly planned decision, the Defence Department said on Friday.

It may, however, have been seen as an aggressive move by Seleka rebels in the CAR.

Questions continue to be asked about the motive for the mission and the paperwork, which paved the way for reinforcements to be sent earlier this year.

At least 13 South African soldiers were gunned down last month in a battle against rebels when they took over the country, including its televisions and radio stations, causing its president, Francois Bozize, to flee.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has secured diplomatic notes exchanged between the two countries but maintains President Jacob Zuma misled Parliament about the deployment.

The department's Sonwabo Mbananga disagrees.

"The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) can never be an entity that would be deployed and sent to look after individuals. This is not a Banana Republic people."

South Africa is now gearing up to send hundreds of soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo.