Alleged SA trainers seen in Guinea

The South African government is investigating reports that about 50 South African mercenaries are working for the military junta which seized power in Guinea late last year.
The South African mercenaries are training junta soldiers in camps in the countryside, according to French media reports.

There are suggestions that they may also be bringing Ukrainian weapons into the country, The Star reports.

Ayanda Ntsaluba, director-general of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, yesterday said government intelligence agencies were checking the reports, which they had so far been unable to verify.

He told journalists at a briefing in Pretoria that some of the alleged South African mercenaries had been seen travelling around Guinea in army vehicles.

The reports might have been inspired by Equatorial Guinea’s early release last week of four South African mercenaries who had been sentenced to long prison terms for trying to topple that country’s government in 2004.

South African government agencies were also checking complaints from South African businesses in Guinea that junta officials were extorting money from them to allow them to continue doing business there, Ntsaluba said.

A military junta under Captain Moussa Camara seized power in Guinea after the death of President Lansana Conte last December.

The government was suspended from the African Union as a result of the coup.

On September 28, Camara’s troops went on a rampage at a political protest rally at a stadium in the capital Conakry, killing 157 people, wounding hundreds and raping women.

On Zimbabwe, Ntsaluba said regional leaders had called a special summit in Maputo last week because they felt the country was tipping into “the abyss”.

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had felt until recently that Zimbabwe was improving politically and economically under the unity government launched in February. But a SADC delegation of foreign ministers which visited Zimbabwe two weeks ago had noticed a sharp decline in the tone of the unity government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Regional leaders then concluded that the “petty squabbling and politicking” of the leaders was squandering the gains the unity government had made, especially in the economy.

The Maputo summit on Thursday gave the Zimbabwean leaders between 15 and 30 days to implement past agreements.

Pic: Flag of South Africa