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Body of SA airman killed in DR Congo comes home

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    Nat Quinn

    The mortal remains of Sergeant Vusimusi Mabena, killed by a sniper in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will be received today (Sunday, 12 February) at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof in Centurion.

    The 15 Squadron flight engineer died when hit by a round which hit and wounded pilot in command, Major Omolemo Matlapeng, when their Oryx (UN tail number 821) was routing to Goma a week ago (Sunday, 5 February). The eastern DRC city is home to a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) composite helicopter unit (CHU) operating Oryx medium transport and Rooivalk combat support helicopters in addition to a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) detachment.

    Durban-based 15 Squadron used soclal media to pay tribute to the airmen saying of the flight engineer “ he was a great servant” to the squadron with “a unique way of doing absolutely everything with a smile”. The post notes Matlapeng is a former 15 Squadron helicopter pilot. Apart from the media advisory issued under the name of Lieutenant Colonel Seitebatso Block as regards the arrival of Mabena’s body, neither the Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SANDF, nor SA Air Force (SAAF) Corporate Services, nor the Joint Operations Division released any information on the dead flight engineer and wounded pilot.

    The media advisory for today’s ceremony at the Centurion base, has it Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise “has been requested” to be present. It makes no mention of who will receive Mabena’s body.

    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and MONUSO head Bintou Keita both condemned “the cowardly attack on an aircraft bearing the UN emblem”.

    Modise, her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, SANDF Chief General Rudzani Maphwanya and acting Secretary for Defence, Thobekile Gamede all expressed condolences and wished the wounded pilot a speedy recovery.

    Body of SA airman killed in DR Congo comes home – defenceWeb

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