'Sandf troops held hostage in Sudan until al-Bashir left SA’

Reports emerged the Sudanese army surrounded the three bases where SA peace keepers were deployed.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Reports have emerged that South African troops in Sudan were held hostage until Omar al-Bashir returned to his country.

The Sudanese president left South Africa on Monday in direct contravention of an interdict.

The High Court in Pretoria ruled that he be arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.

Netwerk 24 reported today Sudanese troops had surrounded three bases in Darfur and only pulled back after their president was safely en route to Khartoum.

The South African National Defence Union's Pikkie Greeff on Tuesday said this had been confirmed by several sources, some of them soldiers.

"The Sudanese army only withdrew from their position once al-Bashir left South Africa. This would boil down to blackmail by threatening someone with war."

Greef said he has no reason to doubt the reports because they come from the soldiers.

"We are concerned about the safety of our soldiers because they are there as peacekeepers and not there for conventional war. Zuma must take a firm stand on this issue," he added.

At the same time, the defence ministry says it cannot confirm claims hundreds of South African soldiers were held hostage by Sudanese counterparts in Darfur.