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'We had real heroes at Battle of Bangui that should have been celebrated'

12 May 2021 3:19 PM
Tags:
Battle of Bangui

Lester Kiewit talks to journalists Stephan Hoffstater and James Oatway, as well as Kele Bojane widow of Rifleman Motsamai Bojane.
Photograph by James Oatway

The Battle of Bangui took place from 23–24 March 2013 in the Central African Republic (CAR) during its civil war.

An alliance of rebel militia known took power in the country and 200 South African soldiers ended up having to muster a resistance effort albeit outnumbered.

Fifteen South African soldiers died in the battle.

Lester Kiewit speaks to journalist Stephan Hoffstater, photojournalist James Oatway, and Kele Bojane widow of RifleMan Motsamai Bojane.

Hoffstatter and Oatway, together with Warren Thompson have been investigating the mystery shrouding the events for several years and have co-authored a book The Battle of Bangui.

They were incredibly detailed and moving descriptions and that was really quite something to be able to talk to the combatants in such detail about their experiences of the battle, of what was really such an uneven match and one where they aquited themselves incredibly well.

Stephan Hoffstater, Co-Author - Battle of Bengui

Those soldiers out in the field were definitely let down by their commanders back in Pretoria and by the politicians involved and I think that has created a great deal of embarrassment in the SANDF, especially at the time.

Stephan Hoffstater, Co-Author - Battle of Bengui

Hoffstater suggests this is the reason there has been little accountability for what happened and little celebration for the soldiers as heroes who fought bravely.

We had real heroes there. There was bravery in battle that should have been celebrated.

Stephan Hoffstater, Co-Author - Battle of Bengui

Instead, he says the boards of inquiries conducted were kept secret.

It was basically a cover-up.

Stephan Hoffstater, Co-Author - Battle of Bengui

Kele Bojane widow of RifleMan Motsamai Bojane says the book has made the family of those soldiers who died realised that they have been played.

It has done that in a very major way. We have realised that we have been fooled. We have been played. We have been lied to, we have been manipulated.

Kele Bonjane, Widow of RifleMan Motsamai Bojane

She remembers how the families were told not to speak to the media at the time.

Listen to the conversation below:

Photograph by James Oatway
Photograph by James Oatway



12 May 2021 3:19 PM
Tags:
Battle of Bangui

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