South Africa soldiers are part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission deployed in eastern DR Congo. Photo: AFP

The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) has denied claims that two of its soldiers deployed as part of the Southern African Development Community Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) have surrendered to M23 rebels.

“We want to state it categorically th at all SANDF members deployed in the DRC have been accounted for,” spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said in a statement on Wednesday.

South Africa approved the deployment of some 2,900 troops in February to assist in the fight against illegal armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The move came as clashes between M23 rebels and the Congolese army continued in North Kivu province.

On Tuesday, a report published by a Washington DC correspondent for the National Security News website claimed “several South African soldiers that were deployed by the ANC Government into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of an ill-equipped and ill-prepared force reportedly surrendered to the M23 rebels this past week. The soldiers are now reportedly being held as hostages by M23.”

Dlamini said: “The convoluted article published by the faceless Washington correspondent is dismissed with the contempt it deserves. This is not the first time such unfounded and baseless news articles have been written about the SANDF since its deployment in the DRC under SAMIDRC.”

The army spokesman further said the SANDF “views such attempts to discredit th e Defense Force in the most serious light by faceless people, and will not standby and allow its good name to be tarnished.”

He added that the SANDF shall at all times inform the South African public about the situation and safety of its members in the DRC.

In February, two SANDF soldiers deployed in the strife-torn eastern DRC were killed and three others injured, the army said at the time.

The deployment of SAMIDRC troops coincided with the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo.

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