Johannesburg - Elements of the group of South Africans allegedly involved in the late Muammar Gaddafi's failed escape attempt last week are apparently still taking care of one of Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam.
Erika Gibson (Beeld)
October 27, 2011.
Al-Islam and his brother, Mot'assim, were at their father's side all the time as he moved first from Tripoli and then between various hiding places in his home town of Sirte.
Al-Islam was generally regarded as his father’s successor.
Mot'assim died on the same day as Gaddafi. Their bodies were subsequently kept together in a cold room in Sirte and buried in an unknown location this week.
The South Africans were contracted by a company that apparently maintained close ties with Gaddafi.
Planes are at the ready at Lanseria airport, as well as in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, to go and help fly the South Africans, and presumably also Al-Islam, out of Libya when it becomes possible to do so, according to information obtained by Beeld.
The new Libyan authorities said this week that they believe Al-Islam is on his way to Niger, where other members of the family and their inner circle fled some weeks ago.
It said the party was believed to be travelling through the desert.
Among other things, the company apparently provided instructors to help train Gaddafi’s presidential guard. The company also handled various offshore financial transactions for Gaddafi.
The South African company was allegedly involved in various contracts in Iraq at the time, but later moved its headquarters overseas, presumably to escape any possible prosecution in South Africa.
About eight weeks ago, a group of South Africans were allegedly also involved in moving a large quantity of Gaddafi’s assets, including gold, foreign currency and diamonds, to a bank in Niamey, Niger.
About a month ago, a group helped Gaddafi’s wife, Safia, his daughter Aisha, and two of his sons, Hannibal and Mohammed, flee when opposition forces attacked Tripoli.
The second group was apparently responsible for moving the assets while the third was involved in Gaddafi’s escape attempt.
Some of the South Africans who arrived "late" in Tripoli when the rebel forces took control of the capital much more quickly than expected, were left stranded in the city.
It is believed they eventually had to flee for their lives and bribed a boat operator to take them to Malta.
Among the South Africans allegedly involved are former soldiers and policemen.
They are all seasoned operators abroad and apparently become involved only by invitation in operations for which they receive large sums in US dollars.
At the weekend it was reported that some of the South Africans were killed during the attack on the convoy in which Gaddafi was trying to escape. Others were wounded and remain stranded in Libya.
Meanwhile, Nato has said that its forces in Libya did not know that Gaddafi was in the convoy of dozens of vehicles when it started moving out of Sirte last Thursday.
The US ambassador to Nato, Ivo Daalder, said last weekend that over the past seven months Nato aircraft closely watched groups of vehicles or military units belonging to Gaddafi and attacked them when they moved out if Nato believed they were aiming to carry out missions against Libyan citizens.
“It was not a case of our being after Gaddafi. Our people saw a convoy moving out [of Sirte] and attacked it,” Daalder said.
Equatorial Guinea coup attempt
Some of the former South African security force members engaged in Libya on the side of Muammar Gadaffi in the past few weeks were apparently also involved in the failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea (EG) in 2004.
If some of them turn out to have received suspended sentences as a result of that cross-border offence, those sentences could now come into effect, said Chris Greyling of the Pan-African Security Association (Pasa).
About 70 South Africans charged with carrying out that operation, some of whom served prison time in Zimbabwe and EG, were the last to be prosecuted in terms of South African mercenary legislation.
Greyling said on Wednesday that they were charged under the “old” legislation. A controversial new version of the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act was subsequently drafted.
Thabo Mbeki, who was president at the time, signed the bill into law in November 2007, but the regulations concerning enforcement were never published in the Government Gazette.
“I have confirmation from the state advocates that the old legislation remains in force until such time that the new legislation can be enforced,” said Greyling.
There are, however, no indications when that might happen.
Consequently any suspended sentences in terms of the old act also remain in force, Greyling said.
Comment: And will these soldiers of fortune be arrested when they return to South Africa? If they are known are their assets in South Africa and elsewhere known to the South African Revenue Service too?
As of this writing the foreign affairs department has merely protested that the actions of these mercenaries are not condoned by the government.
OK, but is there not a need to take a stronger stand? One that condemns the actions of South African mercenaries.
And while they are doing that they could look into why the law regulating (prohibiting) mercenary activities by South Africans was not gazetted.
We are such a banana republic at times.