SA Oryx damaged, crew injured in DRC

Henry

Serious damage was done to the South African National Defense Force’s (SANW) only deployable Oryx helicopter in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Friday morning when the helicopter was reportedly fired upon.

The helicopter sustained at least 40 bullet holes during the attack.

The pilot of the Oryx and one crew member were also injured during the attack, so much so that the pilot will have to be operated on, according to Kobus Marais, the DA’s spokesperson on defence.

According to Marais, the “brave” soldiers on the mission luckily held on and landed the damaged helicopter at the nearest level 3 hospital to ensure emergency medical treatment for the injured crew.

However, Marais says the incident raises serious concerns about the South African army’s security and capability. He says the incident could also possibly have been prevented if the government had not played a role in reducing the South African Air Force’s (SALU) capabilities.

Marais then refers specifically to the lack of at least two Rooivalk helicopters to accompany the Oryx, especially in medical evacuation cases, to defend it against potential threats.

“The Ministry of Defense and the Commander-in-Chief (of the armed forces) should bear the responsibility for the inadequate support provided to our troops, which unnecessarily puts their lives at risk.”

The DA is now asking that an investigation be launched into the incident.

The opposition party also demands accountability from the Ministry of Defense and Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief.

“Our soldiers deserve the best equipment, support and protection, and we will not tolerate any compromises that jeopardize their safety and the success of their missions.”

RNews reported last month that South African troops were deployed in December as part of a military mission of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the east of the DRC, as the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the DRC, Monusco , this year after 20 years finally comes to an end.

Marais had already said then that the replacement of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC with troops from the SADC led by the South African army was a “reckless decision” that could possibly endanger the lives of troops.