The SANDF has remained tight lipped about how many of its soldiers are based in other parts of Africa, including what units have been deployed there.
The spotlight on the SANDF‚Äôs activities has intensified, following the death of 13 South African soldiers on March 23 when rebel fighters attacked them near the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui. Nine soldiers are still in hospital recovering from their injuries sustained in the battle.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told Parliament in early April that the South African soldiers were in the country to protect personnel responsible for training and South African property.
It has been reported that a cable leaked by WikiLeaks showed US diplomats believed that mining interests in the Central African Republic played a role in the South African government‚Äôs decision to get involved in the CAR; a claim denied by government.
SANDF head of communications, Simphiwe Dlamini confirmed that South African troops are no longer in CAR but there are troops currently in the DRC and Sudan ‚Äúunder the UN flag.‚Äù
Dlamini also confirmed that South African troops are currently in the Mozambique Channel as part of a ‚ÄúSADC maritime strategy.‚Äù
South African troops are also safeguarding the country‚Äôs borders and they have been doing so since 2010.
Dlamini refused to divulge how many South African soldiers are involved in these respective missions or which units are involved and where, offering only that ‚Äúthese are operational matters.‚Äù
John Stupart, the deputy Editor of the African Armed Forces magazine estimates that “there are roughly 2100 South African troops” serving MONUSCO,¬† a U.N. peacekeeping force. It replaced an earlier UN peacekeeping operation ‚Äì the United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) ‚Äì on 1 July 2010.
South Africa is also contributing military personnel towards the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur called UNAMID.
Stupart estimates there are roughly 400 – 800 South African soldiers in Sudan as part of the UNAMID.
South African troops stationed in the Mozambique Channel are doing so as part of a counter-piracy operation called ‚ÄòOperation Copper‚Äô.
Stupart estimates that there are anywhere between fifty and one hundred Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS), Special Forces and crew of SAS who are South Africans taking part in the operation.
According to Stupart, South Africa‚Äôs presence in the Central African Republic (CAR) was made up of 300 Special Forces members (5 Special Forces Regiment and 1 Para battalion, 44 Para Regiment).