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South African Army Denies Capture of Soldiers by M23 :: Uganda Radionetwork

South African Army Denies Capture of Soldiers by M23

SADC troops were deployed in DR Congo in December 2023 after the withdraw of troops under East African Regional Force (EACRF).
SNDF statement
South African National Defense Force (SANDF) has denied claims that two of their soldiers deployed under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the war-troubled province of North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have surrendered to the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels.      

SADC troops were deployed in DR Congo in December 2023 after the withdrawal of troops under the East African Regional Force (EACRF).  DR Congo government declined to renew EACRF troops’ mandate accusing them of failure to launch an assault against M23 rebels. The deployment of SADC troops created the resumption of deadly fighting.  

Fighting also led M23 rebels to advance and capture other areas like Vitshumbi, Nyanzale, Rwindi, and Mushaki towns.     

On Tuesday, General Sultan Makenga, M23’s military commander released a statement claiming that two of the South African soldiers last week surrendered to M23 and are being held as prisoners of war.  A Washington DC-based news site, National Security News also on Tuesday reported about the soldiers being in the hands of M23 rebels.   

On Wednesday, the South African army released a statement denying the claims.

According to the statement signed by Dlamini Siphiwe, the SANDF head of communication, the reports are false and baseless.  Siphiwe says that the claims are aimed at attempts to discredit SANDF adding that the force will not stand by and allow its name to be tarnished.   

A lull in fighting was observed on Wednesday following heavy fighting on Monday and Tuesday along Minova and Rwindi-kanyabayonga roads. No advance of both parties was recorded.  

The hills of Bwambaliro and Vunano near Sake town were on Monday taken over by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (AFRDC) and Wazalendo (patriots) but fell back into the hands of M23 rebels on Tuesday.

Efforts by FARDC and the coalition to chase M23 rebels from Kibirizi and Rwindi on Tuesday also failed to succeed.   

In March 2022, M23, led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga, initiated a conflict against the government. The DR Congo government accuses Rwanda of supporting M23, although both Rwanda and M23 vehemently deny these claims. The rebels assert that they are fighting against corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination within the leadership of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

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