South Sudan's former VP doubts SA troops were held hostage

Riek Machar says he doubts SA troops were used as 'bargaining chips' in the Omar al-Bashir debacle.

Former Vice President of South Sudan Riek Machar. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The former vice president of South Sudan Riek Machar has become the latest leader to weigh in reports that South African troops were surrounded in Sudan while the country's president Omar al-Bashir was in South Africa, saying he doubts its authenticity and it would be an uncharacteristic move.

Al-Bashir took off from the Waterkloof Air Force base on Monday morning, just hours before the High Court in Pretoria ruled that he be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he's wanted on charges including war crimes and genocide.

Machar served as a high ranking official in the Sudanese army until 1997 when the government backed his move to form a South Sudan defence force.

The two countries officially split in 2011 and the former vice president was dismissed by President Salva Kiir in 2013.

Machar says he's known the Sudanese president for decades.

"I was once the country's vice president."

He says he doubts that al-Bashir would order his troops to intimidate the South African National Defence Force mission in Sudan.

Machar also says South Africa made the right decision by allowing al-Bashir to leave the country in defiance of a court order.

WATCH: Former south Sudan VP tackles al-Bashir controversy.


At the same time, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says he can't comment on whether he believes government defied the al-Bashir court order by allowing him to leave South Africa.

However Mogoeng says it's his job to ensure the law is obeyed.

The chief justice says he could end up hearing this case and thus can't talk about it.

"Naturally I would want to sit for such a great case."

But he does say laws must be obeyed.

Mogoeng says judges make it their business to ensure the rule of law is observed.


The Sudanese president was welcomed into South Africa to attend the AU summit in Sandton.

The ICC, to which South Africa's a signatory, had said no effort should be spared detaining him.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC to face charges of genocide for more than 300,000 deaths in West Sudan.

This is his first visit to South Africa since the warrant for his arrest was issued.

Previously South Africa discouraged him from entering the country saying it would be obliged to arrest him.

However, the AU took a decision against the prosecution of sitting presidents and rallied against the ICC for unfairly targeting Africans.