SANDF should never have been deployed to CAR - Pieter Groenewald

FF+ MP says army did not have proper logistical and air support for such operations

Government complicit in deaths of soldiers in Central African Republic

The South African government should take full responsibility for the deaths of the thirteen South African soldiers in the Central African Republic (CAR). Another 27 soldiers were wounded while one is still missing.

Mr. Pieter Groenewald, the Freedom Front Plus' spokesperson on defence, says the government has increasingly neglected the SA National Defence Force in the past decade by not making sufficient funds available which was needed for a professional and effective defence force.

"The situation is, due to a shortage of logistical an air support which has now been revealed, so desperate that we believe all soldiers should be removed from the area immediately to prevent further loss of life.

"It appears as if President Jacob Zuma had without careful consideration decided to deploy defence force members in the CAR without proper logistical and air support for such operations.

"Military experts have for a long time been warning that the Defence Force cannot properly undertake peace operations without this type of support.

"It is therefore not surprising that the tragedy took place and it could be repeated if the government does not drastically intervenes and adjust the country's defence budget to such an extent that soldiers will be able to properly fulfil their duties," Mr. Groenewald says.

He said that there have been warnings for a long time that there are insufficient funds for the proper training of soldiers and pilots.

"It is strategically important for South Africa to be involved in the region, but then we should possess the necessary expertise and capability, otherwise South Africa is put to shame in front of the whole world and humiliated as it happened now.

"The FF Plus deplores the incident and expresses its deep sympathy with the family and friends of the deceased soldiers," Mr. Groenewald says.

Statement issued by Mr. Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus chief spokesperson: Defence, March 25 2013

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