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By Peter Mothiba

The killing of at least two of our SANDF soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) and injuries suffered by several other combatants is very sad indeed.

Though death is to be expected in any war, it is painful to accept that our own countrymen have lost their lives.

And many South Africans have already started asking as to why the government has decided to send our army there in the first place.

This as they are of the opinion that our soldiers have been sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect mines owned by prominent South African businessmen as well as current and former politicians of this country.

This latest incident reminds me of the year 2013, when as a reporter I covered a story about a memorial service of Khomotso Paul Msenga of Mamelodi.

Msenga was an SANDF soldier who was killed in the Central African Republic while engaging in combat against a group of rebels in that country.

Twelve other soldiers of the SANDF died alongside Msenga during the said incident against the rebels.

Other South Africans don’t question the presence of our soldiers in the DRC, but express concern about the fact that our soldiers are apparently ill-equipped at the moment and would be easily wiped off the surface of the earth by their adversaries in the form of M23 rebel group.

Others still are of the opinion that the conflict in the DRC should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. They point out that victory through warfare never produces everlasting peace as those who have been defeated in any war will always find a way to regroup and start the war all over again.

Yet another group of South Africans is concerned mainly about the R2 billion rand that the government is going to spend on this excursion in the DRC war.

Maybe by now you are wondering as to what my take is on this matter. Well, dear reader, my answer to this question would be somewhat disappointing to you because it is irrelevant to the issue at hand; which is the presence of our soldiers in the DRC.

What I am presently concerned about is the role of the SANDF in South Africa itself.

Please forgive me for my ignorance, but what is the purpose of having soldiers in this country?

Please don’t say every country needs to have soldiers who would protect its citizens.

Against who or what exactly is the SANDF protecting us as South Africans?

Our borders are not guarded and dangerous illegal foreigners come and go out of this country at will after commiting heinous crimes.

The duty of guarding our borders has been outsourced to the so-called border authorities. All this because some “wiseman” somewhere decided that the responsibility of guarding our borders is not the duty of our soldiers.

Cash-in- transit heists take place almost every week but some “wise man” somewhere decided that the task of chasing after these heavily-armed bandits should be left to the police who are armed with pistols while the bandits are armed with machine guns.

Zama Zamas have again started terrorising communities in the West Rand, criminal syndicates are demanding extortion in Mamelodi, hooligans are doing as they please in Jukulyn, Soshanguve, some foreigners have declared places like Sunnyside as no-go areas and nyaope peddlers are selling this lethal stuff to South African children freely.

But some “wise man” somewhere still insists that the army must not be brought in to stop all this nonsense.

What do soldiers do in South Africa? Do they just polish their boots and guns, wash and iron their uniform, shoot ammunition during training exercises against an imaginary enemy, lie around in the barracks and keep their fingers crossed that there won’t be a real and actual enemy attacking this country? All this while earning big bucks at the end of every month?

Again I beg you to forgive me for my ignorance, but my question still stands: what is the purpose of having soldiers in South Africa?

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