The Star Early Edition

Body of slain sol­dier back with her fam­ily

- RAPULA MOAT­SHE

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.

 ?? PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA / ANA ?? The mor­tal re­mains of No­math­emba Ngeleka, of the SANDF, who died in the DRC, ar­rive at Air Force Base Waterk­loof.
PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA / ANA The mor­tal re­mains of No­math­emba Ngeleka, of the SANDF, who died in the DRC, ar­rive at Air Force Base Waterk­loof.

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