SA mercenaries 'were misled'
Herman Scholtz and Jacques Pauw
Tripoli - Colonel Muammar Gaddafi probably really thought he was going to “live in a tent in the Karoo”, but South African mercenaries actually helped him from the frying pan into the fire.
Speaking to one of the South African operators who was at Gaddafi’s side and a senior source in the intelligence world, City Press discovered the mercenaries were probably also misled into thinking they were helping Gaddafi.
Their involvement was really only part of a larger plan to capture Gaddafi, it now appears.
A few of them are still in Libya after they were approached by a security company in August to assist in moving Gaddafi out of his hometown of Sirte and “bring him to South Africa”.
The recruiting was done by Sarah Penfold, a well-known name in the industry based in Kenya, who apparently acted on behalf of a company in London.
South Africa’s State Security Agency is aware of her visit to Johannesburg on August 17, and she is being investigated.
Gaddafi himself apparently requested assistance from the private security industry.
Subsequently, negotiations were held in which he allegedly made demands concerning his planned stay in South Africa.
One of the operators, Danie Odendaal, told City Press that in his correspondence Gaddafi insisted he be accommodated in a tent in a hot region – preferably desert-like.
He said they still speculated that the only suitable place in South Africa would be the Karoo.
After being issued with false passports, three groups of South Africans flew to Dubai and Cairo, from where they hurriedly flew to Libya to assist Gaddafi.
But things turned into a “disgusting, disgusting orgy” when Nato forces fired on Gaddafi’s convoy before transitional government soldiers captured and executed him.
Afterwards, the details and the incredible “coincidence” of the abortive project started unfolding.
City Press has discovered there was no request to the South African authorities to bring Gaddafi, a fugitive from the International Criminal Court, here.
It would never have been allowed, a reliable government source said.
Intelligence sources believe there were agents among the mercenaries, or in some of the security companies, who were spying for the transitional government and reporting on the mercenaries’ movements.
Nato launched its attack on Gaddafi with deadly precision, and Odendaal believes someone “sold them out”.
There is another group of South Africans in Libya, but City Press has learned they are not under arrest. They come and go as they like, and some live in hotels.
No one wants to comment
Former police commissioner George Fivaz said he received a call from a man in London last week who wanted to hire a 50-seat air ambulance to fetch people in Libya. Fivaz told him he couldn’t help him.
City Press telephoned a security company in London for comment about allegations they had contracted the South Africans through Penfold.
Initially, an employee immediately ended the call. Another employee, who only identified himself as “Harry”, at first said they didn’t have any operations in Libya.
Later he said “no one will comment about this”.
Despite many telephone calls, Penfold couldn’t be reached for comment.
The South African government doesn’t want to become involved, and it’s not clear how the mercenaries will be taken out of Libya.
State Security Agency spokesperson Brian Dube said they didn’t wish to comment at this stage.\
- On 30 October City Press published a report entitled “SA Mercenaries were misled”. The report referred to allegations that the London based Hart Security had contracted South African mercenaries through an intermediary to render certain services in Libya. The reference to Hart Security in the report was published in error. City Press regrets the error and retracts the allegation.