British soldiers on the spot for referring to Kenya as a “shithole country”

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Royal Gurkha Regiment of the British Army during a past training in Kenya. PHOTO/KDF

By SECURITY CORRESPONDENT

newsdesk@reporter.co.ke

British soldiers training in Kenya referred to local soldiers and children in a derogatory manner a London court has been told.

A South African former lance corporal Nkululeko Zulu told an employment tribunal in central London that members of his unit, the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, allegedly told Kenyan children begging for food to “f**k off” and referred to local soldiers as “f***ing n****rs” and “African animals.”

Mr Zulu according to a report in Morning Star said he had been preparing to join the special forces but became disillusioned after fellow squaddies called Kenya a “shithole country” while on exercises in east Africa.

Hundreds of British soldiers train in Kenya’s Laikipia area under British Army Training Unit Kenya (Batuk). They are now being accused of “shocking” instances of racism by black military veterans.

Batuk is a training support unit of the British Army located in Kenya under long-standing cooperative agreements between the two countries. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) maintains a longstanding Defence Cooperation Agreement with the Kenyan Government whereby up to six British infantry battalions (10,000 service personnel) per year may carry out four-week exercises on Kenya Ministry of Defence land at Archer’s Post and in Laikipia County.

Mr Zulu told an employment tribunal in central London that he had encountered repeated racist remarks during his decade in the army.

Mr Zulu, who is South African, has been joined in his claim by fellow ex-soldier Hani Gue from Uganda.

Earlier this week, Mr Gue told the tribunal that he had seen Nazi flags and photographs of Adolf Hitler on display at their barracks in Colchester, where the battalion is based.

The battalion is already under scrutiny after video emerged of its members shooting at an image of Mr Corbyn.

These latest allegations look set to damage the army’s reputation even further, especially in former colonies where the Ministry of Defence (MoD) still depends on access to training grounds and foreign recruits.

The MoD needs to enroll 1,350 soldiers from Commonwealth countries each year to make up for a lack of British applicants.

In November, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster announced: “From Australia to Jamaica, to Fiji and South Africa, Commonwealth recruits are already playing a key role in our armed forces.

“So we’re stepping up the numbers of recruits from the Commonwealth, knowing that they will bring key skills and dedicated service to our military.

“Their different perspectives will also help us to enhance our cultural understanding, giving us an operational advantage over our adversaries.”

Former lance corporal Nkululeko Zulu when he appeared before the employment tribunal in central London. PHOTO/ MORNING STAR

This employment tribunal case could severely undermine the MoD’s ambitious recruitment strategy, particularly as Mr Zulu alleges that two paratroopers described Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist” – a remark which he says went unchallenged by senior soldiers at the time.

Mr Zulu also alleges that when his colleagues encountered a group of local soldiers outside the British base in Kenya, one corporal said: “Look at these idiots running. F***ing n****rs don’t have a clue.”

However, MoD counsel Simon Tibbitts suggested that the corporal had actually said: “Jesus Christ, those f***ers can run.”

Mr Tibbitts also accused the claimant of “exaggerating” events and being “confused,” charges which Mr Zulu denied.

The barrister said British troops are briefed at the start of any deployment to Kenya that “child beggars may swarm around vehicles” and it was a “disciplinary offence to give the locals food.”

He added: “The sad reality is that impoverished beggars can be quite persistent” and suggested that it was necessary for troops to use “quite firm words.”

Mr Zulu responded that it was not necessary for British soldiers to use “dehumanising” language.

This story was first published by UK’s Morning Star

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