The Star Early Edition
Body of slain soldier back with her family
THE mother of slain South African National Defence Force soldier Nomathemba Ngeleka broke into tears when the mortal remains of her daughter were handed over to the family at Air Force Base Waterkloof on Saturday.
The 27-year-old from Ladysmith in KwaZuluNatal was allegedly shot dead by her former boyfriend, a fellow peacekeeper, at a camp in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
It was reported that her killer was in a critical condition in a Goma hospital, having tried to commit suicide after the incident.
Major-General Eddie Drost, deputy chief at the joint operation division, said: “It was an unfortunate incident that took place on October 27 where one rifleman shot another rifleman, but we are not sure of the circumstances at this point. You will understand that this needs to go through the normal legal processes, investigations and those types of things.”
He said the body was repatriated to South Africa on Friday following the tragic incident.
“This is the formal military honours that we pay to the body, and the whole aspect of receiving the body back from the external world. The military views this to be a highly unfortunate incident and we condemn it.”
Ngeleka’s relative, Thandeka Mthombeni, said the family were devastated by the news of her sudden death. “My sister and the family are deeply hurt. The death has affected them very badly.”
Mthombeni said she last saw the victim in June during the burial of her twin sister.
“We were at home and burying her twin sister. She came in a bit late because she was back from work. When she came she hugged us all as a family. She showed that happiness; she was happy,” Mthombeni said.
She said Ngeleka’s 11-year-old daughter always complained to her that she missed her so much because of her absence from home.
“She would ask her: Mommy, why do you work far away from me? Why did you decide to take a job that takes you far away from us? The child was not happy about mommy’s job.”
Mthombeni said Ngeleka was working at 5 South African Infantry Battalion in Ladysmith and had joined the army in 2011.
A memorial service had been planned in Ladysmith, where the victim owned a house, Mthombeni said. She will be buried on Saturday.