The South African government has denied reports that it has facilitated the rehabilitation of hundreds of former ISIS fighters from Syria.
Recent media reports have alleged that some of the people repatriated by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to South Africa are or have been members of the Islamic State in Syria.
In a statement, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said it has noted with concern the “false and irresponsible” newspaper reports indicating that hundreds of former ISIS fighters have been repatriated to the country through a “secret operation” carried out since 2019.
“The reports have no factual basis,” DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.
He said the South African embassy in Syria was working with Syrian authorities to monitor the situation of 16 distressed women and children stranded in the Middle East country “to confirm their South African citizenship and provide assistance.”
“It is important to note that DIRCO is entrusted with the responsibility of providing consular services to any South African in distress abroad, in a transparent manner and within the framework of the South African and international law,” Monyela said.
The allegations come in the wake of reports that ISIS has established a continental base in South Africa from where it finances terrorist operations across Africa.