The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has sent legal officers and investigators to probe the reported cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by its members serving as United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mission has received reports of sexual exploitation and abuse involving five members of the South Africa military contingent in the DRC. According to reports, the incidents involve paternity and child support claims.
The SANDF on Thursday reiterated its stance against any abuse of civilian members where it is deployed in support of the peace keeping efforts of the UN, saying it views such allegations in the most serious light.
“In view of these having surfaced, the SANDF swiftly moved to send its legal officers and investigators to the mission area to deal with the efficacy of such reports. Once again it must be noted that these investigations are being conducted in close liaison with the United Nations office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said.
The allegations surfaced just a month after similar cases, which included three of sexual exploitation, were reported against South African troops serving in the Monusco mission. The incidents are reported to have taken place between 2014 and 2016 in North and South Kivu in the country’s east.
The allegations against South African troops serving in the UN missions have been in the news since 2015 and reported incidents range from alleged rape to taking advantage of women and forming relationships.
Mgabozi said all reported cases are currently under investigation and will be concluded as quickly as required by the UN.
Mgobozi dismissed the media reports accusing the SANDF of not cooperating with the UN in such matters.
Reports suggest that these are new allegations will not be given the required attention as in the past.
“The investigating team that is currently in the DRC is also mandated to investigate any such incidences that have surfaced beyond 2016.
“The Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke, is on record to have emphasised that ill-discipline and criminal behaviour in the ranks of the SANDF is despised and will not be tolerated and those found to have transgressed the Code of Conduct and Military Disciplinary Code will be dealt with without fear or favour,” added Mgobozi.