SA soldiers not stranded – SANDF

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has dismissed reports that their members are stranded in bases across Sudan's Darfur region. "There is no ounce of factual truth in the article. The article is viewed as a poor ploy to incite panic and alarm for families, friends and loved ones of the deployed men and women of the SANDF," SANDF said on Thursday. The media reports had indicated that soldiers are waiting for a chartered aircraft to bring them home. However, SANDF dismissed this, saying the article is laden with distorted facts on general matters regarding the SANDF’s deployment in Sudan. SANDF reiterated that all planning for the withdrawal of SANDF troops and assets from Sudan is underway as determined by the relevant entities or authorities. "The SANDF would like to assure South Africans that members of the SANDF who are in Darfur are sound and well under the auspices of the United Nations (UN)." The 850 South African soldiers have been serving in Darfur on a rotational basis as part of a combined African Union/United Nations peace mission (UNAMID). They have been part of the peacekeeping mission since 2008 in an attempt to quell violence that killed over 300 000 people and displaced millions, according to the UN statistics. Although the conflict has eased, several SANDF troops have been killed in Darfur. Last month, one South African soldier was killed and another wounded while providing a security escort service for the World Food Programme's humanitarian aid. The ambush occurred two weeks after President Jacob Zuma's February announcement that all SANDF troops would be withdrawn from Sudan by April 1.

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