Cape Town – South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar is reportedly in South Africa to receive medical treatment after he fled fighting that erupted in the east African country in July.
According to SABC, his spokesperson and officials in Pretoria confirmed that the rebel leader was now in South Africa.
"He is now in South Africa for medical treatment," his Nairobi-based Spokesperson James Gatdet Dak was reported as saying, adding that he was likely to stay in the country for about a week.
Earlier this week, Machar himself told journalists in Khartoum that he was headed to South Africa to have medical tests and after that "I will leave". He did not specify, however, what his next destination would be.
Machar gave no details of his medical condition but spoke of the travails of his flight from South Sudan.
Machar initially travelled through the bush from South Sudan to Democratic Republic of Congo, sustaining a leg injury on the way after an aide said his group had been pursued by forces loyal to his rival, President Salva Kiir.
From the DRC, Machar travelled to Sudan where he also received medical care, the report said.
Spokesperson for South Africa's Foreign Affairs Department Clayson Monyela said consultations were made with the government of South Sudan regarding Machar's visit.
"His period of stay in the country is not known," Monyela was quoted as saying.
A political analyst from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Nelson Alusala told News24 this week that he believed Machar was indeed travelling to South Africa for purely medical reasons.
Alusala said that the rebel leader’s coming to South Africa had to "taken at face value" until his actions suggested otherwise.
"We know that in July this year there was an altercation between Machar’s troops and the government’s troops. Machar in that period made his way on foot to the Democratic Republic of Congo where he travelled for 37 years. So for a journey of that nature, a person would need medical attention
"We have been informed that he also sought medical attention in Khartoum and the fact that he is now travelling to South Africa makes sense as the medical infrastructure in South Africa is well developed," said Alusala.