Tuesday, August 02, 2005

South African Mercenaries off to Haiti?

Published August 1, 2005 on www.news24.co.za, a South African online news website:

SA mercenaries off to Haiti?
01/08/2005 22:16 - (SA)

Erika Gibson

Pretoria - South African mercenaries are claimed to be involved once again in destabilisation operations in a foreign country - this time in Haiti in the run-up to its elections later this year.

An e-mail notice to members of the SA Special Forces League mentions that league members, friends and former members of the police task force apparently already have "positioned" themselves for "fireworks in a small, but very controversial, Caribbean country".

The league's official message is that it "aggressively condemns all mercenary-related activities".

Those involved are warned they must abandon the operation, no matter what promises have been made to them.

"The whistle has been blown; the game is over; get out and stay out," is the warning.

The warning might confirm certain South Africans' involvement, mentioned in newspaper and radio reports in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti.

Provided bodyguards to Aristide

These reports claimed that 10 to 15 South African mercenaries travelled through Europe to the Dominican Republic bordering Haiti, where they would presumably have got visas to enter Haiti.

They are supposed to cause chaos in the country in the run-up to the elections.

An international security company, which had previously provided bodyguards to former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is thought to be involved in recruiting the latest group.

Aristide is now an exile in South Africa.

It is known that several South Africans had worked for the security company previously.

The names of some of those involved, which were mentioned in the radio reports, were given phonetically as Garcia Rivas, Duplace, Limburt, C Paul, Trudy, Lowe, Aurel, Hunter, Farrher and Joseph.

It is not known whether the men would have used false names to take part in the alleged action.

The Dominican security forces are reportedly investigating whether there is any sign of the men in their country.

Some of the first reports also appeared in Le Matin in Haiti. This newspaper linked the alleged mercenaries to Aristide and said their assignment apparently was to murder political leaders, disrupt the business community and foment civil resistance.

The report states the Dominican security forces are contacting their peers in Haiti to try to prevent any attempted violence.

7 600 peace-keeping troops in Haiti

Although the national prosecuting authority has not responded yet to the allegations, reporters in South Africa learnt that the team investigating mercenaries knew of the claims and were keeping an eye on the situation.

About 7 600 peace-keeping soldiers have been deployed in Haiti to help stabilise the country.

But, there are sporadic protest marches and violence still occurs and some of the buildings housing the UN have been attacked.

Amnesty International said last week the 170 000 hand guns belonging to the country's civilians could lead to bloody violence before the elections.