The United Nations has expressed its grave concern over allegations against four SANDF peacekeepers that stand accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in addition to a separate case of physical violence perpetrated against a 17-year old boy in the DRC.

The UN also welcomed a statement by the South African Defence Force (SANDF) that a formal investigation has been instituted and that an investigating team has been dispatched the region.

South Africa has in the region of 1200 troops serving in the UN’s largest and long-running peacekeeping missions in the world.

Four SANDF troops now stand accused as the UN continues its battle against sexual exploitation and abuse committed by those sent to protect others.

UN Secretary General’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric  says, “The UN mission in the DRC has received four allegation of misconduct including three allegations of sexual exploitation. These allegations involve military peacekeepers from South Africa. According to information we have at this time, the three allegations of sexual exploitation involve adult victims, one of which includes a paternity and a child support claim. The incidents allegedly took place Sake, Beni and Goma, that’s in North Kivu province. UNFPA has been engaged to ensure that the victims are provided with immediate assistance.”

The UN says it was informed of the allegations late last week and immediately apprised South African authorities that, as the troop contributing country is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all allegations against its military personnel. A further case of assault and possible torture is also being investigated.

“The fourth allegation refers to physical violence inflicted by a military peacekeeper on a 17-year-old boy in eastern Kasai. The victim was referred to UNICEF for immediate assistance for his protection and is being monitored by the UN’s joint human rights office. Ensuring the provision of assistance to the victims is our priority. The UN mission and other UN agencies and partners with the support of the victim’s rights advocate will continue to maintain the well-being of the victims and monitor their needs.”

 

Dujarric says the UN will provide any additional assistance such as the collection of DNA samples.

“The UN has informed the member state of these four allegations and has requested that national investigation officers be appointed within five days and that for investigations to be completed within the reduced 90-day timeframe due to the serious concerns raised by these allegations. And that will be done jointly with a team from the UN office of internal oversight services.”

The SANDF has long maintained that criminality and ill-discipline within its ranks will not be tolerated.

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