Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Are SA mercenaries assisting Guinea’s military junta?

Within a matter of weeks of Britain’s Simon Mann being granted a pardon for his part in a foiled 2004 coup attempt on Equatorial Guinea (which included a number of our guys), South Africans are once again being linked to mercenary activity. This time the allegations relate to Guinea where they are purportedly training soldiers for Guinea’s military junta.

This is the same junta which received international condemnation for the September massacre of opposition protesters by security forces.

In response to claims that our mercenaries have been spotted training Guinea’s military the director-general of South Africa’s International Relations and Co-operation department, issued a statement that the matter was being investigated.

The same would have regard to the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act a copy of which is provided here.

In terms thereof the relevant sections are :

Definitions :

(iii) ‘‘foreign military assistance’’ means military services or military-related
services, or any attempt, encouragement, incitement or solicitation to render
such services, in the form of—
(a) military assistance to a party to the armed conflict by means of—
(i) advice or training;
(ii) personnel, financial, logistical, intelligence or operational support;
(iii) personnel recruitment;
(iv) medical or para-medical services; or
(v) procurement of equipment;
(b) security services for the protection of individuals involved in armed
conflict or their property;
(c) any action aimed at overthrowing a government or undermining the
constitutional order, sovereignty or territorial integrity of a state;
(d) any other action that has the result of furthering the military interests of
a party to the armed conflict,

3. No person may within the Republic or elsewhere—
(a) offer to render any foreign military assistance to any state or organ of state,
group of persons or other entity or person unless he or she has been granted
authorisation to offer such assistance in terms of section 4;
(b) render any foreign military assistance to any state or organ of state, group of
persons or other entity or person unless such assistance is rendered in
accordance with an agreement approved in terms of section 5.

8. (1) Any person who contravenes any provision of section 2 or 3, or fails to comply
with a condition with regard to any authorisation or approval granted in terms of section
4 or 5, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment
or to both such fine and imprisonment.
(2) The court convicting any person of an offence under this Act may declare any
armament, weapon, vehicle, uniform, equipment or other property or object in respect of
which the offence was committed or which was used for, or in connection with the
commission of the offence, to be forfeited to the state.

Accordingly if South Africans have been training foreign military without authorisation as set out in sections 4 and 5 of the act then they have committed an offence in terms of the act and are liable to punishment in terms of Section 8 thereof.

In terms of the definition set out in iii above it would appear that any South African found with the junta’s military would have an extremely difficult time explaining the reason for his being there. The act is clear; you cannot render foreign military assistance inside or outside the republic without permission.

It is bad enough that we have the people of this continent killing their countrymen on a daily basis without allowing leaders, particularly those that allow their own to be massacred, to start importing guns for hire.

With the above you should now be able to follow this story with a bit of insight.