JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Members of the Southern African Development Community military mission in Mozambique are under investigation after video circulated on social media showing them throwing bodies onto a pile of burning rubble, officials said Tuesday.
The soldiers are part of the mission deployed by the 16-nation regional bloc of South African countries to combat Islamic extremists who have been waging terror against communities in northern Mozambique.
According to the United Nations World Food Program, insurgents in Mozambique have been blamed for more than 3,000 deaths since 2017, with more than 800,000 people displaced and more than 1 million dependent on food aid.
The video shows unidentified members of the mission burning a pile of debris containing furniture and paraphernalia, throwing a body at it while another body lies on top of the burning rubbish.
At least one soldier, wearing a military uniform with a South African flag, is holding his rifle in one hand and using a cellphone to film the incident with the other.
The incident is believed to have happened in November last year.
South African National Defense Force spokesman Brig Gen Mokoena Mahapa described the incident as a “despicable act” and said it violated the law of armed conflict and that the force commander was investigating.
“The SANDF in no way condones the acts committed in the video and those found guilty of such acts will be held accountable,” Mahapa said.
He said the South African soldiers on the mission were part of a unified force and would come under the command and control of the mission.
“South Africa only supports their mission logistically,” Mahapa said.
About 600 South African soldiers have been in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique since October 2021 as part of the regional force of about 1,000 soldiers, which also includes Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Malawi, Lesotho and Zambia.