SA police still captive, talks continue


Negotiations are continuing to secure the release of four South African peacekeepers who were kidnapped in Sudan, a spokesman for the hybrid African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says.

“Negotiations for their release remain behind the scenes. UNAMID’s leadership continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of our peacekeepers,” spokesman Chris Cycmanick said on Friday. The unarmed police advisers were seized by unidentified gunmen around 4pm on April 11 when they left their post in Nyala in South Darfur for a 7km journey back to their quarters.

On April 16, it was reported that the four were in good health and authorities were confident that they would be released, the SA Press Association reported. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency 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 said that it wanted one billion Sudanese pounds ($400 000) but that this was not “most important”, AFP reported. “We want to show the international community that security conditions in Darfur do not allow for elections.” The kidnapping came as Sudan held its first competitive election in over two decades, the report said.

The police this morning had no further update on the situation. National commissioner General Bheki Cele’s spokeswoman Major General Nonkululeko Mbatha said the police remained in contact with the families to inform them of developments.

Pic: An archive view of SA police on parade in Darfur in 2005.