Sniper gets Jelly Tots

04 December 2015 - 02:42 By Graeme Hosken in Goma, DRC

Corporal Thabiso Diphoko's Christmas wish is modest. Packets of Jelly Tots.They keep him calm.And in one of the UN's most dangerous peacekeeping missions in Africa, calmness is desperately needed.Diphoko, a sniper from the SANDF's infantry school, is one of 1400 South African troops stationed in the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.The frequency of rebel attacks is mounting - now almost daily."At the moment we are quiet, but we hear from our informers that the rebels are planning something for us over Christmas."Apparently they have a special surprise for us."SAAF Rooivalk helicopters this week made devastating attacks on jihadist Allied Democratic Forces rebels.The South African military this week flew in thousands of special packages for the troops, who will be on the frontline over Christmas.Diphoko got his wish.Inside his package were packets of Jelly Tots, courtesy of his girlfriend."They are so nice," he says as he chews slowly, savouring his favourites, the pink ones."It means a lot. Especially in a place like this. Sometimes the people here like us, but a lot of the time they don't."They want peace."They are tired of war and want us to end it, but they also see us as foreigners and are suspicious of us."For Captain Mogale Tshidi, of the military health service, the special package makes him long for his home and his son, Tshepo."He has been angry with me. He doesn't understand why I am here. He wants to Skype but we don't have proper internet here."It's difficult to get a signal but when there is one I immediately call, but the line is not always good."

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