Former South African army colonel William Endley. Picture: Defence Web

Johannesburg – Following an amnesty from South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former South African army colonel William Endley has escaped being hanged after he was sentenced to death by a Juba court in February. 

He will be released from prison on Thursday and then deported back to South Africa.

On Wednesday South Sudan President Salva Kiir declared the release of two political detainees, including Endley, who was sentenced on charges of treason, the East African reported. Also released was James Gatdet, a former spokesman of rebel leader Dr Riek Machar. 

Gatdet was arrested in 2017 after his deportation from Nairobi for allegedly subversive activities against the Juba administration.

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 Machar, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), who returned home on Wednesday after spending years in exile in South Africa.

Endley’s incarceration in appalling conditions, according to members of his family who spoke with the African News Agency (ANA), and subsequent death sentence were seen as politically motivated following South Sudan’s failed 2016 peace agreement.   

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

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 after Kiir accused Machar — then vice president— of plotting a coup against him.

The five-year civil war has killed an estimated 380 000 people and nearly two-and-a-half million others displaced.

African News Agency/ANA