It is a tragedy that 55-year-old South African military contractor William Endley might well be hanged after being sentenced to death yesterday by a military court in Juba, South Sudan.
Endley, a former advisor to South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar – who has fled the country – was charged with various offences, including plotting to overthrow the government.
South Sudan is the world’s newest country, having come into being only in 2013 after a bloody civil war in Sudan.
The case is still murky, with Endley’s defence representatives arguing that he was in fact helping integrate former rebel forces into the South Sudan defence force after the conflict.
There are those who would call Endley a mercenary and argue that he knew the risks of becoming involved in that line of work. The South African government is also opposed to its citizens working for private military companies.
But the reality is that many trained, and skilled, former soldiers have not been able to find gainful employment in civilian life in this country and have no alternative.
Perhaps our government should think about harnessing these abilities and experience to help bolster our peacekeeping missions in Africa.
Our old soldiers should not be cast aside.