After 18 months of waiting to know the fate of her husband, yesterday’s midday courtroom verdict came as a hammer blow for Sana Endley. Yesterday she learnt that her husband William had been sentenced to death in a South Sudanese court, after he was convicted of conspiracy and attempting to overthrow the government.
“I just don’t know what to do,” a tearful Sana told the Saturday Star not long after she was told of her husband’s sentencing from a friend.
“All I hope is that the South African government can do something and save him.”
Endley, 55, who is a retired South African National Defence Force colonel, was sentenced to hang after six witnesses for his defence failed to appear in court.
The presiding judge Ladu Eriminio Sekwat then declared the defence case closed.
Endley was arrested in August 2016 after fighting broke out between the former South Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar and soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir. Endley was at the time working for Machar as a security contractor. His first court appearance was on February 13.
Endley’s defence had argued that he was only performing his duties as a security contractor to help Machar’s forces integrate into the South Sudanese Army.
Sana said that her husband would appeal his sentence and that she believed he had 12 days to do so.
In the days leading up to yesterday's verdict, Endley’s family had prayed that he would be either given a light sentence or be released.
In the time Endley has been detained his family have only received one phone call from him. That call took place on December 16, last year.
“Basically it was a two minute call when the South African ambassador visited him. He sounded great, he sounded strong, healthy and normal.”
Endley’s family have been allowed to send him money, food and medication.
Since Endley’s incarceration times have been tough for Sana and his 11-year-old daughter Janice. They have suffered psychologically and financially. She can't afford to visit her husband.
Sana has had to take her daughter out of a private school. “My daughter has been such a trooper, she has kept her grades up, but she misses her father. She questions me if she is ever going to see him again, is he going to come back alive, or is he going to die there,” says Sana.
Yesterday a spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation Nelson Kgwete said they were waiting for the embassy in South Sudan to brief head office and then a decision would be made as to how to proceed.
Head of future scenarios at the Institute of Security Studies Jakkie Cilliers explained that now Endley had been sentenced it made it easier for South Africa to react as they now knew his legal status.
“South Africa is duty bound to appeal this sentence as it goes against our constitution which doesn’t support the death penalty,” he said.
Cilliers added that communication could take place at a high governmental level between the two countries. What they could agree to is that Endley serves the rest of his sentence in South Africa. In the meantime Sana and Janice have to wait