A member of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) was shot dead by insurgents in Cabo Delgado while fighting with the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).
SANDF said the incident occurred on December 20 when SANDF members deployed on Operation Vikela were attacked by insurgents in an ambush around the area east of village of Chai in the province of Cabo Delgado. The members managed to fight through the ambush, but while at the rendezvous point awaiting a helicopter evacuation, they were again attacked by insurgents and a member of the SANDF was shot dead. and declared dead at the scene.
The member’s body was flown back to SAMIM Chai Tactical Base, SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Andries Mahapa said in a statement.
“Further investigation is underway to determine the extent of personnel injuries and loss of equipment during this unfortunate incident.”
Several other South African soldiers are believed to have been wounded in the attack and the members involved were from special forces. If confirmed, it would be the first Special Forces member to be killed in action since Corporal H Carstens during the border war in April 1989.
SANDF said Defense and Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, Deputy Defense and Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla, Defense Secretary Sonto Kudjoe, and Chief of the Defense Force South African National, General Rudzani Maphwanya, extend their sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the deceased.
Several Mozambican soldiers were also reportedly killed and wounded in the attack, which comes amid increased insurgent activity in Cabo Delgado. Mozambican Defense Minister Cristovao Chume said Mozambican soldiers and SAMIM stormed a rebel base on December 19 and killed ten insurgents in Cabo Delgado.
There have been several attacks over the past two weeks in Macomia district in Cabo Delgado – Chai is just north of Macomia.
President Filipe Nyusi said last week that Mozambique had seen fewer jihadist attacks this year than last year, after Rwanda and the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervened to help fight an insurgency that has claimed more than 3,000 lives.
“We have succeeded in reducing terrorist attacks by three,” he told Agence France Presse. While in 2020 the country recorded just over 160 attacks, that number was reduced to 52 in 2021, he said, in part thanks to the intervention of Rwanda and SAMIM.
Several SAMIM soldiers died in service in Mozambique – some from accidents and others from fighting. Botswana, Lesotho, Tanzania and now South Africa have all lost staff.