In a devastating incident, four members of the 8 Infantry Battalion of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) lost their lives, while two others sustained critical injuries.
The tragedy unfolded when a Samil truck, which was towing another Samil truck, met with a freak accident. The military authorities revealed that the rear vehicle being towed experienced a burst tire, causing both vehicles to roll and crash.
As a result of the impact, four SANDF members were ejected from the vehicles, and tragically, the Samil truck fell on top of them. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene, leaving their families, friends, and colleagues in deep shock and grief.
Two other members were critically injured and were immediately evacuated to Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington for urgent medical treatment. Additionally, nine other members, who sustained minor injuries, were also taken to the same hospital for evaluation and care.
The accident occurred on Wednesday while the two military vehicles were en route from Upington to Lohatlha in the Northern Cape. The SANDF has already informed the families of the deceased members about the tragic incident, and a team of army chaplains and social workers has been deployed to provide support during this difficult time.
Expressing their condolences, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla, Acting Secretary for Defence Dr Thobile Gamede, Chief of the SANDF Gen Rudzani Maphwanya, and Chief of the South African Army Gen Lawrence Mbatha have extended their heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families, friends, and colleagues.
The military has also urged the public and media to respect the privacy of the grieving families.
Cyril Xaba, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, has also sent his condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of the deceased members. The tragic accident serves as a somber reminder of the risks and sacrifices that members of the SANDF make in their commitment to protecting the nation.