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There is a video circulating on the Internet showing dead bodies being thrown over a fire in Cabo Delgado and clearly shows to be SANDF soldiers standing watch while what appears to be sacrilege of dead bodies being thrown over a fire.

This incident has sent shivers across the world that such sacrilege is happening in Africa. Africa has been in the forefront of lecturing others especially the imperial west on issues of this nature.

This is purely a war crime being committed in the presence of women and children while our very own South African National Defence Forces watch. What happened to military professionalism that soldiers should always conduct themselves? It is expected that if their mission is to maintain peace and stability, such rogue elements have in fact ripped the veneer off their goals.

The insurgency which unfairly has been labelled as “Islamist Jihad”, are victims of “othering” as Prince Harry’s victims in Afghanistan have been profiled.

Once dehumanised, the message in the video clip suggests it is ok to kill and burn with impunity.

At least one of the soldiers in the video was wearing a South African flag on his uniform. However, it was not immediately clear where the others came from. “The SANDF does not condone in any way the acts committed in the video and those who are found guilty of such acts will be brought to book,” Mahapa said in a statement on Tuesday.

He explained, however, the incident was being investigated by SAMIM rather than the SANDF because it oversaw the military mission in Mozambique.

South Africans form the bulk of the SAMIM forces fighting insurgents in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province.

“The incident is believed, but not yet confirmed, to have occurred in the aftermath of a successful attack on an insurgent stronghold, which left 30 enemy combatants dead,” John Stupart, Director of African Defense Review, told DW.

He called it “completely unacceptable” and added, “to treat bodies with respect is enshrined in international laws on war. It’s also explicitly mentioned in SANDF’s own Standard Operating Procedures for Mozambique.”

The SANDF’s statement refers to “activities against the Law of Armed Conflict.”

Several other Southern African countries have also contributed troops to the regional force fighting alongside Mozambican and Rwandan soldiers against the insurgents.

The European Union is partly funding the SAMIM to the tune of €15 million (roughly $15 million).

Since the conflict in resource-rich Cabo Delgado started in 2017, more than 4,000 people have been killed and “nearly 1 million” have been forced to flee, according to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The Media Review Network (MRN SA) calls for the immediate withdraw of SANDF forces from Mozambique and punishment of the perpetrators. We also call on the Minister of Defence of South Africa to resign forthwith. We categorically stand on our earlier convictions that the entire narrative of #Cabodelgado being a war on “Islamists” is indeed false. Instead, SADC should urge the leadership in Mozambique to equitably distribute the newly found wealth with the people from where the resources are coming from. Give the young men priority of jobs and ensure that the wealth that is being generated from the areas builds schools and hospitals in the areas where they are mining.



Dr. Mustafa Mheta

Senior researcher/Head of Africa Desk

Media Review Network SA

Dean: School of Languages at Somali

National University (SNU) Mogadishu

Federal Republic of Somalia