SANDF: “Soldiers taken hostage claims not true”


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has denied allegations that some of its troops in Sudan were taken “hostage” following the granting of a court application for the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir.

“There is no iota of truth in these allegations. There is equally no substance to support these allegations. The SANDF did not come under any threat during this period,” it said in a statement yesterday.

Al-Bashir, who was attending a summit of the African Union (AU) in Johannesburg over the weekend, abruptly left the country on Monday after the Pretoria High Court called for his immediate arrest and hand over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), for genocide in the country’s war torn Darfur region.

According to Netwerk24, unnamed SANDF claimed that armed Sudanese forces, clothed in combat gear, surrounded bases in the Kutum, Mellit and Malha, triggering a state of alert.

“No additional instructions, with regard to higher alert levels, were issued. The security situation in Darfur is calm where our troops are deployed,” the statement continued.

Addressing the media during the summit’s closing on Monday evening, veteran Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe alleged that President Jacob Zuma had given the AU assurance that al-Bashir would not be arrested, while Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma stated that it was within his rights to attend.

“This summit here is no different from any other AU summit. This is not a bilateral meeting, it is a multilateral organisation and when a country hosts it, it does so according to the rules of the AU and not according to the rules of the countries,” CityPress quoted her saying.

Reacting to the situation, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, David Maynier, said that Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula should provide clarity as to whether SANDF soldiers were indeed used “as a bargaining chip [for al-Bashir to] escape arrest in South Africa”.

In a similar reaction, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Leader Julius Malema stated that al-Bashir deserves “to rot in jail” before calling on the ICC to arrest former United States President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“Bashir should know that when we become government in South Africa, we are going to persuade Africa to form a credible judicial system,’ The Citizen quoted him as saying during the party’s Youth Day rally at the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus yesterday.

“He must be prosecuted for his sins, but he must be subjected to a proper justice system,” Malema said.


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