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South African Mercenaries Among High Fatalities in Ukraine Conflict

Published March 17, 2024
2 months ago

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, at least 14 South African mercenaries have lost their lives in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. With the war commencing in 2022, South Africa is among a list of African nations that have seen their citizens travel abroad to participate in the hostilities, supporting Ukrainian forces.

The Ministry stated that a contingent of 35 South African mercenaries had been identified, highlighting the perilous situation these individuals have found themselves in. This situation is not unique to South Africa. Other African nations have recorded higher numbers of citizens involved as mercenaries in Ukraine, and consequently higher death tolls. Nigeria, for instance, has had 97 of its nationals fighting in Ukraine and reported 47 fatalities. Algeria follows, with 60 involved and 28 fatalities. Comparatively smaller numbers have been provided for Senegal and Guinea.

Cumulatively, these individual statistics contribute to a larger picture presented by Russia. Since the onset of the war, they claim a total of 13,387 mercenaries from around the world have plunged into the fray of the Ukraine conflict. Out of these, as many as 5,962 have been killed.

Beyond Africa, the ministry's numbers suggest that European, American, Australian, Latin American, and Asian mercenaries havealso been affected.

The Russian Embassy in South Africa gave a stark description of the situation, labeling Ukraine as a "graveyard for mercenaries" and attributing the high number of fatalities to the actions of the Russian military.

Back on the local front, South Africa's stance on citizens' involvement in the Ukraine conflict aligns with its legislative framework. Minister in the Presidency responsible for State Security, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, highlighted last year that under the Foreign Military Assistance Act, South African citizens are prohibited from mercenary activities. Speaking in response to the involvement of South Africans in the Gaza conflict, she affirmed that legal actions await those who defy this prohibition. The government appears resolute, with plans to request that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) bring charges against those caught in breaches of this act.

The South African government's warning is a clear indication of their position on the involvement of its citizens in international conflicts. The situation presents a complex challenge for South Africa, as it grapples with the legality and ethical considerations of its nationals partaking in foreign wars, which has now resulted in loss of lives.

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