SA man in Iraq 'decapitated'

Johannesburg - The family of the South African who was shot dead in Iraq last week are upset by reports that Gray Branfield, 55, was decapitated and then hanged by his feet.

Branfield, 55, from Helderkruin, Roodepoort, was doing security work in Kut, 185 km south east of Baghdad. He was shot and killed on Tuesday when fighting between the coalition forces and Iraqi rebels flared up again.

The family did not want to comment on Sunday.

Branfield shared a house with four other people. The four escaped when Shi'ite Muslims attacked the house and killed Branfield.

Branfield was working for the Hart Group, a firm of security specialists. Ginger Branfield, 78, Gray's elderly father, said he knew his son was doing security work, but was not aware of the extent thereof. He denied that his son was a mercenary.

³As far as I am concerned, he (Gray) died as a hero. He could have left the country at any time, but he stayed.²

He said Gray joined the former Rhodesian security forces after school and later joined the South African security forces.

Branfield is the second South African to be killed in Iraq since the end of the war.

Frans Strydom, a former policeman, died in January when a bomb exploded in front of the hotel in which he was staying in Baghdad.

Another South African, Deon Gouws, was seriously injured in the blast.

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