A member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was shot and killed by insurgents in Cabo Delgado whilst fighting with the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).
The SANDF said the incident occurred on 20 December when SANDF members deployed under Operation Vikela came under attack from insurgents during an ambush around the area east of Chai village in Cabo Delgado province. The members managed to fight through the ambush, but while at the rendezvous point awaiting a helicopter evacuation, they were again attacked by the insurgents and an SANDF member was shot and declared dead on the scene.
The mortal remains of the member were flown back to the SAMIM Chai Tactical Base, SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Andries Mahapa said in a statement.
“A further investigation is being conducted to determine the extent to injuries of personnel and loss of equipment during this unfortunate incident.”
It is believed that several other South African soldiers were injured in the attack, and that the members involved were from Special Forces. If confirmed, this would be the first Special Forces member killed in action since Corporal H Carstens during the Border War in April 1989.
The SANDF said the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, the Secretary for Defence, Sonto Kudjoe, and the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphwanya, extend their heartfelt condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the deceased.
Several Mozambican soldiers are also believed to have been killed and wounded during the attack, which comes amid an uptick in insurgent activity in Cabo Delgado. Mozambique’s defence minister Cristovao Chume said Mozambican and SAMIM soldiers on 19 December stormed a rebel base and killed ten insurgents in Cabo Delgado.
There have been several attacks in the last two weeks in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado – Chai is just north of Macomia.
President Filipe Nyusi said last week that Mozambique had witnessed fewer jihadist attacks this year than last, after Rwanda and Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries intervened to help tackle an insurgency which has killed more than 3 000 people.
“We were able to reduce terrorist attacks by three times,” he is reported by Agence France Presse as saying. While in 2020 the country registered just over 160 attacks, but that number was reduced to 52 in 2021, he said, thanks in part to Rwandan and SAMIM intervention.
Several SAMIM soldiers have died on duty in Mozambique – some due to accidents and some due to combat. Botswana, Lesotho, Tanzania and now South African have all lost personnel.