376pp., colour illus., maps, paperback, Cape Town, 2021
On 23rd March 2013, during the Central African Republic Civil war, rebel soldiers entered the town of Bangui. A contingent of 200 South African soldiers sent to Bangui to support President Francois Bozizé were the only line of defence against the large rebel force. Faca, the Central African Republic Army and the peacekeeping forces of the Central African Standby Brigade disappeared. Fifteen South African soldiers died in and after the battle and the remaining troops were forced to negotiate a ceasefire from their base. Bozizé fled the country and Michel Djotodia declared himself president.
“A powerful cocktail of searing front-line war reportage, investigative journalism, and history ... The Battle of Bangui exposes the reckless folly and greed that dragged South Africa - and a tiny force of brave soldiers - into a distant, horrific and unwinnable conflict. It’s a story with echoes of Black Hawk Down, of Rorke’s Drift, and of Heart of Darkness - a tale of hubris, heroism, diamonds and blood.” Andrew Harding, BBC foreign correspondent and author of These Are Not Gentle People
"The events leading up to South Africa's most disastrous post-apartheid military battle have always been shrouded in secrecy. Why did the ANC government become entangled in a doomed mission to protect a corrupt and repressive dictatorship in a remote country ... This book reveals disturbing new evidence. It shows how the deployment had its roots in geopolitical cronyism, uranium and diamond deals, and the lure of quick money for the politically connected ..." Geoffrey York, African correspondent, The Globe and Mail
Warren Thompson is a financial investigative journalist at Business Day and the Financial Mail.
Investigative journalist Stephan Hofstatter has worked for Business Day, Financial Mail, Sunday Times and Mail & Guardian. He is the author of Licence to Loot.
Photojournalist James Oatway is former chief photographer of the Sunday Times.