Soldier freezes to death in Western Cape

SANDU says commanders didn't check on soldier after 11 hours of radio silence.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) says it's waiting for the results of an autopsy before commenting on the death of a soldier during the early hours of Thursday morning.

The soldier died outside the Oudtshoorn Military Base in the Western Cape after apparently freezing to death.

The South African National Defence Union's (SANDU) Pikkie Greef says the soldier was a recruit still undergoing training.

Greef says the soldier's body was discovered outside the camp.

"The death of the soldier could have been prevented because of the protocols that are supposed to be in place. There was possibly no radio communication, it disappeared for 11 hours and his commanders didn't check on him."

SANDU said the death could have been avoided and describe the Oudtshoorn base as notorious.

Meanwhile, the defence force has confirmed the death but is not commenting about what caused it.

Greef added the soldier died of hypothermia.

"Neither the minister nor the chief nor the military ombud can show us anything that's been done about the numerous complaints that have been logged against the lack of command control at that base."

But the defence force's Xolani Mabanga says the police have been called in to do a full investigation.

"All necessary procedures that need to be followed in case of death have been followed."

The death has raised questions about equipment given to soldiers and whether communication protocols are being followed.