SA soldiers coming home from Sudan later this month


April 23, 25 and 27 are red letter days for South African soldiers whose deployment in Sudan is over. Those three days will see them fly back to South Africa aboard UN chartered aircraft.

The South African troops – all from 8 SA Infantry Battalion – were part of the hybrid African Union/United Nations peace support mission (UNAMID) in Sudan. They were withdrawn from forward bases they had been occupying late in March and were replaced by Pakistani and Sudanese elements to ensure continuity of operations in the Darfur region.

Since withdrawal from the front lines, the South Africans have been based at the major UNAMID base at El-Fasher awaiting arrival of UN organised air transport. The dates of their air transport home have today been confirmed to defenceWeb.

They will come back aboard UN chartered aircraft but there was no confirmation whether they will be on civilian or military aircraft. The aircraft will land at AFB Bloemspruit from where the 8 SAI troops will move to the nearby De Brug mobilisation centre before returning to their home base at Upington.

A South African closing down team arrived in Sudan at the weekend to start work on arrangements to bring SA National Defence Force (SANDF) equipment back to South Africa. The team is tasked with ensuring all SANDF equipment in Sudan, with the exception of soldiers’ personal equipment and weapons, is properly accounted for and loaded ahead of transport by road to the port of Sudan where it will become ship’s cargo for transit to a South African port.

SANDF equipment to be accounted for and brought home includes Mamba personnel carriers, forklift trucks, graders, tipper trucks and other specialist vehicles.

South Africa has been part of UNAMID since its establishment at the beginning of 2008 as a successor to the AMIS, the then African Union mission in Sudan.

Both full-time and Reserve Force units of the SANDF have been deployed to the east African country for periods of up to 12 months.

President Jacob Zuma, Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, announced the withdrawal from Sudan in February.