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Prostitution Scandal: South Africa Recalls Accused Soldiers From DRC

South Africa Soldiers


Prostitution Scandal: South Africa Recalls Accused Soldiers From DRC

DRC government is pushing for an “accelerated” departure of the UN force from the country beginning next December

Beni, Democratic Republic Of Congo – The South African army has made the unprecedented decision to recall nearly a dozen of its peacekeepers deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following allegations of their involvement in a system of mass prostitution in front of their base.

The scandal has sent shockwaves through the United Nations mission in the DRC (Monusco), leading to the arrest of eight South African peacekeepers and the suspension of one officer on charges of “systematic and widespread violation” of UN rules against sexual exploitation and abuse.

In a press release issued on Sunday, the South African army announced the recall of the accused peacekeepers to South Africa to respond to the grave allegations. Investigators have been dispatched to the DRC to conduct a thorough examination of the situation.

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The accusations revolve around a system of “brothels” and “makeshift bars” that reportedly operated near the Monusco base at Mavivi, near Beni. The establishments were allegedly used for prostitution.

A preliminary report also suggests that the officer in question had “intimidated and verbally threatened” UN personnel when the peacekeepers were arrested for frequenting these establishments. The confrontation resulted in an attempted escape, a physical altercation, and a chase involving UN military police.

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Stéphane Dujarric, the UN Secretary-General’s spokesman, revealed that Monusco had received information indicating that the South African soldiers were meeting after curfew in a bar outside the boundaries of the base, a location known to be a place of prostitution.

When UN police officers moved in to make the arrests, they were met with physical resistance and threats from the South African contingent.

The situation has not only embarrassed South Africa but has raised questions about the conduct of UN contingents in Africa. The incident is reminiscent of past allegations of fostering prostitution, exploitation, and sexual abuse of local individuals around their bases.

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Since May, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi has been urging Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, including South Africa, to deploy forces in the DRC to support the Congolese army in addressing the M23 rebellion, which has seized control of significant portions of the country’s eastern region.

Meanwhile, the DRC government is pushing for an “accelerated” departure of the UN force from the country beginning next December. After 25 years of presence, the government accuses the UN mission of failing to bring an end to violence by armed groups in the region.

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