Note to editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kobus Marais MP.
The DA notes with sadness the incident where a South African Air Force Oryx helicopter was shot down on Sunday in the Democratic Republic of Congo between Goma and Beni.
The commander was critically wounded while the flight engineer unfortunately died. The co-pilot was able to steer the helicopter to Goma Airport.
The DA offers heartfelt sympathy to the family of the flight engineer and express our gratitude for his service to our country. We wish a speedy recovery to the commander, who’s in hospital in a critical state, and the home squadron in South Africa.
The DA has requested the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, to urgently brief the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) on the circumstances of this incident and provide answers on whether there was a deviation from our policy/standing or standing order, which holds that South African Oryx helicopters should fly in pairs, escorted by Rooivalk helicopters. If policy was not followed we need to know why not and who will be held accountable.
We cannot unnecessarily endanger the lives of our soldiers because of budget cuts and withdrawals.
It is perhaps time to consider whether the highest priority is still to have our air support capabilities in foreign countries while we have a critical shortage of air defence capabilities in South Africa along our land- and maritime borders.