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Not true that SA soldiers were held hostage in Sudan - SANDF

17 June 2015, 09:52 Thomas Hartleb, News24

Johannesburg – The SA National Defence Force on Tuesday reacted with “utter dismay” to reports that its troops in Sudan where “held hostage” during a court bid to have President Omar al-Bashir arrested while he was in South Africa.

“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.

It was reacting to a report by Netwerk24, quoting unnamed South African soldiers in Sudan, that heavily armed Sudanese soldiers had surrounded military bases in Kutum, Mellit and Malha, and that South African troops were placed in a state of combat readiness.

“No extra-ordinary operational preparedness was done by the SANDF in view of the reported situation in South Africa. No additional instructions, with regard to higher alert levels, were issued. The security situation in Darfur is calm where our troops are deployed.”

It added that good working relationships with the government of Sudan were the order of the day.

According to the Netwerk24 report, vehicles approached the South African bases and all troops had to be in combat gear, fully armed, and positioned in bunkers and against embankments.

“I am so thankful that South Africa did not arrest Bashir. The battalion commander said after Bashir touched down safely in Khartoum, all the [Sudanese] troops were withdrawn. The calamity has returned to normal,” reads a message sent by a soldier in Darfur to his friends in South Africa.

About 1 400 South African soldiers are serving in Darfur as part of a combined African Union/United Nations peace mission (Unamid). The current group is from 8 SA Infantry Battalion in Upington.

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- News24


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