By Prince Kurupati
William John Endley, a former South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) Colonel was recently sentenced to death by hanging by a Judge in South Sudan. Endley was charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government of President Salva Kiir, illegal entry to South Sudan and spying.
A private radio station in South Sudan, Eye Radio was the first to break the news via its official Twitter handle before BBC corroborated the story. The official tweet sent by Eye Radio read;
“William John Endley, the South African accused of conspiring against the Kiir administration in 2016, has been sentenced to death by hanging. #SouthSudan
10:46 AM – Feb 23, 2018”
Endley came to South Sudan as a security advisor to the rebel leader, Riek Machar. Machar is a former deputy to President Salva Kiir. The two fell out soon after the peace agreement signed with Sudan with Machar going on to form his own resistance movement.
Endley was arrested in August 2016 after a clash between Machar’s bodyguards and government forces. At the time, Endley was arrested alongside Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak.
The two, Endley and James Gatdek Dak first appeared in court last year in October. Gatdek Dak who was charged with a single crime, conspiracy to overthrow the government of President Kiir received his sentence thereafter, a 21-year jail term to be followed by death by hanging. Gatdek Dak’s sentence caused an uproar locally and internationally with human rights group condemning the sentence as unjust.
Endley appeared in his last court appearance without a defence counsel as his previous lawyer left him over a month ago. Before leaving, Endley’s the then lawyer argued that he be freed using the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement which states that all sides in South Sudan have to release political detainees and prisoners of war. Endley’s new lawyer, Gar Adel who was supposed to represent him in the final trial could not do so as he was barred by the court after he pleaded for more time to familiarise himself with the case.
During Endley’s last court appearance, the court reported that Endley worked as a Major General for the SPLA-IO, Machar’s rebel organisation. In his role, the court reported that Endley would procure firearms and ammunition and helped the SPLA-IO with military expertise. According to the court, Endley’s role in the organisation was in violation of South Sudan’s Criminal Procedure Act and the South Sudan National Security Act of 2014.
The presiding judge, Ladu Armenio while delivering the sentence in Arabic said that Endley’s actions endangered state security and the economy of the nation. Judge Armenio passed a sentence of two consecutive prison terms of nine years after which he will be hanged.
A court official translated the sentence from Arabic into English.
Charmaine Quinn, Endley’s sister in Cape Town, South Africa said the family is devastated by the sentence. She said that the family has not received any news from the South African Embassy in Juba, South Sudan but they have approached the government in Johannesburg for assistance. She said the family is trying to stay positive and they want the government to have Endley extradited to South Africa for a new trial.
David Shearer, Chief of the UN Mission in South Sudan condemned the sentences for Gatdek Dak and Endley.
Endley has a window of 17 days in which to make an appeal.