Mechem working to free captured SA man

2012-04-29 22:45

Johannesburg - Denel Mechem on Sunday said it was working closely with international and Sudanese authorities to ensure the safe release of two of its employees.

The men, whose caputure was first reported on Saturday, were in Sudan participating in a United Nations (UN) humanitarian operation, Denel Mechem CEO Ashley Williams said.

"They have full diplomatic immunity because of the work they do for the UN peacekeeping forces," said Williams in a statement.

"We expect them to be released at the earliest possible time and we are working with the United Nations and through the South African diplomatic representatives in both countries to ensure that they are not harmed in any way."

Williams said he has received confirmation from the UN that the two employees - a South African and South Sudanese - were unharmed, but held in custody in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Williams said he was in regular contact with the family of the South African man, Thabo Siave, to keep them informed about diplomatic initiatives to ensure their release.

Southern Sudanese officials have contacted the family of the local resident who has been working with Mechem for the past seven years.

The two Mechem employees, together with British and Norwegian UN workers were travelling back to Bentui in a Mechem-designed Casspir mine-protected vehicle, when they were captured by North Sudanese soldiers.

Williams said the two were part of a UN task team responsible for the lifting of landmines and the destruction of unexploded remnants of the recent civil war between the two countries.

He denied the employees were either military advisers or participated in any offensive operations.

"We have been removing landmines in southern Sudan since February 2004.

"Prior to the elections earlier this year we have helped to lift more than 3 300 explosive devices and cleared more than 9 000km of road to ensure the safety of residents in the area."

  • bernpm - 2012-04-29 21:33

    Mechem is a subsidiary of DENEL, the SA arms manufacturer. Suspicion on their real mission is not necessarily misplaced.

      Jean - 2012-04-30 07:22

      @bernpm, yes we know, yet as you stated it is a subsidiary of Denel. Any arms manufacturer has a "sword and shield" role. They have done great things in securing landmines and other harmfull explosive devices around war torn regions. Saving millions of lives. Hope those guys get home safely.

  • coleen.matthews - 2012-04-29 21:53

    Why can't the same be done for the two South Africans taken hostage by Somalian pirates in October 2010?

      Deana - 2012-04-30 09:59

      Completely agree with you! And what about the 4 South African men who worked for a Security company in Iraq and was captured in 2004? Nothing was done by our Government to help save them. They are forgotten by all except their families- sad how SA \choose\ whom to save and who to leave to rot in a hell hole!

  • E - 2012-04-30 10:53

    People, please read the article. They were working for the UN, the United Nations, even though they are employees of Mechem. And that company is the one that cleans up other people's dangerous left-overs - in Bosnia, in Mozambique, in Angola, many other less-publicised places, and now in the Sudans - so that ordinary people can go about their lives more safely. And, just because you don't read about it in the papers every day(orNews24 every 5 minutes), that doesn't mean that SA is doing "nothing" for other SA'ns held hostage. Life is not like the movies, where the whole drama is sorted happily ever after by Rambo or Brad Pitt in the course of less than 3 hours!

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