The body of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) member deployed with the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping mission killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) earlier this week will be repatriated to South Africa on Saturday.
Sergeant Vusi Mabena was killed on Sunday when he was struck by a sniper bullet after the Oryx helicopter he was traveling in, along with members of an SANDF aviation unit, came under fire from rebels after taking off from the city of Beni.
Pilot in command Major Omolemo Matlapeng was struck in the shoulder by the same bullet and later underwent surgery.
While giving an update on clashes in the region with the M23 rebel group which the DRC Government has blamed for Sunday’s attack, UN Secretary General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says, “Clashes between the Congolese army and the M23 resumed yesterday in the area around Sake in North Kivu province, triggering displacement towards Goma and South Kivu province.”
“The UN Peacekeeping Mission dispatched a patrol to this on the Sake-Goma axis and continues to deploy efforts to protect civilians. It’s also coordinating with humanitarian partners to assess the situation and provide adequate response to alleviate human suffering. Our colleagues in the peacekeeping mission pay tribute and bid farewell to the fallen peacekeeper from South Africa, Sergeant Vusi Mabena, who, as you will recall, died in the February 5th attack in North Kivu province in a helicopter. The body of Sergeant Mabena will be repatriated to South Africa tomorrow,” Dujarric adds.
VIDEO: UN condemns helicopter attack that killed SA peacekeeper: