SA gets ‘best Freedom Day present’

2010-04-27 10:45

The release of four South Africans abducted in the Sudan, was the

“best Freedom Day present for the country”, President Jacob Zuma said.


This was after the four, who were kidnapped while on a United

Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), were released yesterday.


The Presidency said: “They are shaken but are in good health and

good spirits.”


Arrangements were being made for their return home. Zuma

congratulated the four hostages for their bravery and wished them well in their

recovery from the ordeal.


The Presidency said Zuma liaised with the United Nations, the

Sudanese government and other structures to secure their release.


Unamid spokesperson Saiki Kemal yesterday confirmed the release of

the four, abducted earlier this month.


The peacekeepers – two men and two women – were released in

Nertiti, approximately 50km from Nyala, a city in southern Darfur.


Kemal said: “The government of Sudan’s official security were there

to receive them, they were transported by a Unamid helicopter to Nyala.


“The chief of the mission Mr Ibrahim Gambari, along with his deputy

Mr Mahommed Yonis and a number of government of Sudan officials were also there

to welcome them.”


South African Micheal Fryer, a Unamid police commissioner, was also

there to welcome the four police officers.


Kemal said: “It seems it had been difficult for them, but they are

tough people. They are professional police officers in a peacekeeping mission...

they are looking good.”


He said the four officers will be transported to Khartoum, the

Sudanese capital later, where they will spend the night before travelling back

to South Africa.


The four unarmed police advisors’ last movement before their

abduction was reported at 4pm on April 11 when they left Nyala in South Darfur

on a seven-kilometre journey back to their private quarters, Unamid said at the

time.


AFP reported that Jibril Bukhari Abbas, the head of a Darfur group

calling itself the People’s Democratic Struggle Movement, said one of its

members had carried out the kidnapping but without instructions from the

group.


The group told the agency it wanted one billion Sudanese pounds

(about R29?million) but that this was not “most important”.


“We want to show the international community that security

conditions in Darfur do not allow for elections.”


Kemal said no ransom was paid.
 

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