GOMA, DRC - The SA Defence Force is preparing to train a new group of soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It says it will intensify capacity building in the struggling DRC army.
This comes as four Congolese troops were lost this week when two UN bases were attacked in north Kivu, in the east of the country.
As it fights rebels in the east of the county, the DRC's army faces attacks from a growing number of groups, among them jihadists.
With no end in sight, training for the country's troops has taken centre stage.
Major General Barney Hlatshwayo, SANDF Chief Director Operations Development, says "We are not fighting wars for the Congolese but we conduct operations in support of the FARDC – the good thing is that we have trained more than a brigade of their forces.”
To escape the fighting, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighbouring countries in recent years. Despite the presence of thousands of peacekeepers including South Africans, armed groups still manage to launch deadly attacks, some of which are countered by the SANDF.
Colonel Bayanda Mkula, SANDF National Contingent Commander in DRC says, "Ours is to neutralise the external armed groups in the DRC. In terms of the Chapter Seven mandate we have to be robust and offensive.”
Among other fields of expertise, the SANDF is providing specialised training in artillery for the local army, the FARDC. SA army generals say this has led to better team work in attacks on armed groups.
Training for more DRC soldiers is due to begin early next year. For now it’s up to the South African peacekeepers and their multi-national counterparts to ensure the safety of millions of civilians.