Sana Endley sits next to a painting of her husband William who has been sentenced to death in South Sudan. Picture: Karen Sandison/Saturday Star

Johannesburg - Sana Endley, the wife of former South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) colonel, William Endley, 55, who was sentenced to death by hanging in a Juba court in South Sudan on Friday, broke down during a telephone call with the African News Agency (ANA) when asked for comment.

"You have no idea what I'm going through do you? No you don't! I can't talk now," said Sana shortly after the devastating news had been delivered before breaking into sobs and ending the telephone call. 

A call to Endley's sister Charmaine Quinn went unanswered.

Meanwhile, South Sudan's ambassador to South Africa, Philip Jada Natana said that he would get back to ANA when asked for comment as he was waiting on Juba to get more information.

In addition to the charges of conspiracy and attempts to overthrow South Sudan's government, the supply of weapons the South African national was also accused of espionage, waging an insurgency, sabotage, terrorism and illegal entry into South Sudan.

Endley formerly served as an adviser to rebel leader Dr Riek Machar, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) who is currently in exile in South Africa. 

Read: Hashtag to help man's release from S Sudan

South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has been embroiled since 2013 in a civil war between the SPLA-IO and government forces loyal to incumbent President Salva Kiir.

Endley was arrested in August 2016 and first appeared in court on February 13.

According to his defence which has argued against the charges, Endley was only performing his duties as a security contractor to help Machar's forces integrate into the South Sudanese Army.

Endley's lawyer Gardit Abel Gar said that six witnesses had been served with a notification to testify, including a government minister.

Dramatically, none of the witnesses called by the defence appeared, culminating in presiding judge Ladu Eriminio Sekwat to state that the defence case was closed.

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Endley also worked in Iraq as a private military contractor doing demining following his retirement from SANDF engineers.

James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s former spokesman, has also been sentenced to death for incitement and conspiracy against Kiir’s government.

South Sudan won independence from the north in 2011, however, in the subsequent civil war, tens of thousands of people have been killed and a third of the population displaced, many of them to refugee camps in neighbouring Uganda, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis.

The future is not looking promising either, with recent talks on power sharing in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, stalling and ongoing clashes erupting despite a ceasefire signed in December.

The ceasefire agreement was intended to revive a 2015 peace deal, which lasted less than a year before collapsing.

African News Agency/ANA