Skip to comments.Suspected Terrorists in Court (Mercenaries in Africa)
Posted on 03/24/2004 2:45:29 AM PST by witnesstothefall
THE 70 suspected mercenaries who were arrested in Harare early this month in connection with the foiled coup in the Equatorial Guinea yesterday appeared briefly before a court convened at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
The suspects, who are facing five charges under the Public Order and Security, Firearms, and Immigration Acts, were not asked to plead when they appeared before magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe.
They were remanded to April 13, when their lawyers are expected to make an application for refusal of remand.
The suspects, made up of 10 whites, two coloureds and 58 blacks all clad in new prison garb, drew the attention of the people who thronged the prison to witness the proceedings, as they walked from the cells to the special court.
They were walking in pairs, with their hands and legs shackled. They sat in court in rows with most of them grinning all the time as they engaged in discussions with their lawyers, before the proceedings started.
Mrs Mary Zimba-Dube of the Attorney General's Office read the indictments to the court.
On the first count, Mrs Zimba-Dube told the court that the suspected mercenaries were charged with breaching the Public Order and Security Act, which provide a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment on conviction.
She alleged that in June 2003, Simon Francis Mann was contracted by Severo Moto, an exiled opposition political leader from the Equatorial Guinea, to assist him in toppling the current president of that country by a violent coup.
She alleged that Mann and Nick Du Toit, who is still at large, recruited 69 men with military backgrounds to carry out the task.
The 70 suspects allegedly conspired and agreed to possess dangerous weapons, which were to be used in carrying out the task.
In furtherance of their agreement, it is alleged, they underwent vigorous refresher courses in weapon handling and urban warfare.
On February 10 this year, Mann and Du Toit came to Zimbabwe Defence Industries and purchased dangerous weapons that included 61 AK rifles, 300 offensive hand grenades, 45 000 AK ammunition rounds, 20 PKM light machine guns, 30 000 PKM ammunition rounds, 100 RPG 7 anti-tank launchers, two 60mm mortar tubes, 5 080 60mm mortar bombs, 20 Icarus flares, 500 boxes of 7.62 by 54mm ammunition, 1 000 boxes of 7.62 by 39mm ammunition, 1 000 rounds of RPG anti-tank HE ammunition and 50 PRM machine guns.
The State further alleged that on March 6 this year, Mann, Laurens Jacobus Horne and Jacob Hermunus Carlse came to Zimbabwe as an advance team to finalise the collection of the dangerous weapons that were going to be collected on the following day.
On that day, it is alleged the remaining 67 suspects aboard a Boeing 727 aircraft marked N4610 landed at Harare International Airport to collect the weapons.
"Before they could conduct pre-loading inspection of the weapons, the accused were arrested. The accused unlawfully attempted to possess the aforesaid weapons," said Mrs Zimba-Dube.
Under the Firearms Act, the suspects face two counts. They were charged with conspiracy to purchase and possess firearms without a firearm certificate and conspiracy to purchase and possess ammunition without a certificate.
It is alleged the suspects conspired to carry out a coup in the West African state and arranged and purchased arms from the ZDI in Zimbabwe.
On March 7 the plane belonging to Dodson Aviation, South Africa left Pelokwane Airport in South Africa for Zimbabwe. On board were three crew members and 64 passengers, the State alleges.
It is alleged that on arrival at Harare International Airport, the suspects refuelled their plane and proceeded to Manyame Airbase where they intended to collect arms and ammunition that included 10 Browning pistols and 20 Icarus flares.
According to the State, the arms and ammunition had been purchased on February 10 by Mann and Du Toit. Mann was not aboard the plane, but had come to Zimbabwe in March as part of the advance team with Carles and Horne.
The three - Mann, Carles and Horne - are facing separate charges for allegedly planning to acquire the weapons, arm the mercenaries and proceed to Equatorial Guinea to launch the coup.
It is alleged that they failed to show firearms certificates for the arms and ammunition, when they were asked to do so upon their arrest.
For breaching the Immigration Act, the suspects are facing charges of "entering or assisting any person remaining in or departing from Zimbabwe and making false statements".
The 67 men who were aboard the plane that was impounded by security authorities are from Britain, South Africa, Angola, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and one Zimbabwean.
It is alleged the crew had no manifest of passengers and they falsely gave out that they were carrying cargo.
They also misrepresented to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe that there were only three crew members and four loaders on board, the State alleges
The passengers, alleged the State, had specific instructions to switch off the lights after landing, remain still and not to allow people to enter the plane to avoid detection.
"As a result of false declaration, the passengers and crew members managed to enter Zimbabwe without the knowledge of immigration officials," said Mrs Zimba-Dube.
"Investigations have revealed that the 64 passengers were mercenaries on their way to Equatorial Guinea to carry out a coup d'etat. The accused also purchased and attempted to acquire ammunition and firearms from Zimbabwe Defence Industries without a firearm certificate."
The suspects were also charged with contravening the Aviation (Air Navigation) Regulations, by allegedly making a false statement or declaration to a CAAZ official.
The proceedings were conducted at Chikurubi following a High Court ruling on Monday that the maximum security prison was the only compromise venue for such a case.
Mr Jonathan Samkange of Byron Venturas and Partners represented the 70.
Earlier on, Mr Samkange told the court that his clients were assaulted by the military police on the day they were arrested.
He, however, said he had no complaints against the police and the prison authorities, who he said had treated his clients well.
See also the article there on MERCS, BOLT CUTTERS AND A BRIGHT ORANGE DINGHY...
On March 7 the plane belonging to Dodson Aviation, South Africa left Pelokwane Airport in South Africa for Zimbabwe.
Perhaps this is just a typo but considering the West's general intellectual laziness who can tell. The town is supposed to be spelled: Polokwane which was formerly known as Pietersburg. Named after Boer General Petrus Joubert. Infoplease.
Pietersburg [pE'turzbûrg"] Pronunciation Key Pietersburg or Polokwane [pO"lOkwän'A] , city (1991 pop. 54,700), Northern Transvaal, NE South Africa. It is primarily the commercial center for the surrounding agricultural area. Iron and other minerals are mined nearby. Pietersburg was founded in 1884 and named for Petrus (Piet) Joubert, a Boer (Afrikaner) general. In 1900 during the South African War it was for a short time the capital of both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (see Free State). It was occupied by British troops in 1901. The city was renamed Polokwane in 1994, but the old name has persisted in popular, and even official, usage. Nearby are Kruger National Park and the Univ. of the North (1959).
There was a lot of controversy & resistance among the descendents of the Voortrekkers settlers of the town when the name of the town was changed.
Though I wrote a clarification to some points in the above linked article. Barnaby Phillips. BBC South Africa correspondent.
A dispute between white and black communities in a conservative farming region of South Africa is threatening to destroy the atmosphere of racial reconciliation which has been built in recent years.
Barnaby Phillips. BBC South Africa correspondent.
I would think that the decade long increased killing of white farmers (mostly of Boer descent) which has made the Boer farmer the most at risk group for murder in the world would be considered much more of a threat to the atmosphere of racial reconciliation.
The ANC government in Northern Province says it is changing place names which it feels are too closely identified with the apartheid era.
Just one problem. The town of Pietersburg was not named during the Apartheid era. The town was named in 1884 when it was part of the independent Transvaal Republic (also known as the South African Republic) named after a famous Boer General Petrus (Piet) Joubert. Joubert ran for president of the Transvaal Republic 3 times, but lost each time to Paul Kruger. Joubert wanted to incorporate the Outlanders (Britons) & the Zulus into the Transvaal Republic. Not exactly Apartheidesque.
With the backing of the local legislature, its announced that henceforth Northern Province is to be known as Limpopo Province.
Which is not such a stretch. The northern border of the province is the Limpopo River. Which was called the Limpopo River all through out the Apartheid era.
The capital, Pietersburg, is to be known as Polokwane. Warmbaths has become Bela-Bela, whilst Potgietersrus is now Mokopane.
Polokwane. Not Pelokwane as written in the article posted at the top.
On the streets of Pietersburg, the protests have already begun. Groups of Afrikaners drive in slow motorcades, with the old, apartheid-era, flag hanging out of car windows. Depending on one's version of when the Apartheid era was -this statement could be considered erroneous. While segregationist laws existed in South Africa since its inception in 1909 when the South Africa Act established an all white Parliament: many assert that Apartheid (grand) began in 1949 after the election of Daniel Francois Malan's Reunified National Party & the establishment of the first of the more expansive segregationist laws started during his rule. The so called " Apartheid era" flag the article refers to was adopted in 1927.
The so called Apartheid era flag came about as a result of a compromise between Boers / Afrikaners & English speakers. Since it features the Prince Flag (of the Netherlands) -also called the Van Reibek Flag- < link. > / the inverse British Union Jack < link. > / & the two Boer Republic flags of the Transvaal Republic < link. > & the Orange Free State. < link. >.
Already one other province, the Eastern Cape, has said it would like to change its name - others may follow.
Whatever the merits of the course it has embarked on, Northern Province may well have started a trend in South Africa.
Already one other province, the Eastern Cape, has said it would like to change its name - others may follow.
Not surprising since this is where most of the Xhosa nation lives. This is the area where (the former independent homelands of) the Transkei & Ciskei were located.
But the resistance from Afrikaner people is likely to be strongest in the Northern Province, where their historical and cultural roots run so deep.
After all: this is part of the region where the Boers trekked the furthest north in their desire to escape British colonialism during the nineteenth century. The town of Pietersburg is one of the most northern towns in South Africa established by these Voortrekker Boers. Which the article as well as most Westerners tend to lump in with the term Afrikaner (which was popularized during the early twentieth century) which includes Afrikaans speakers who were not Voortrekkers & hence did not trek from the Cape into the north.
Agreed. But something doesn't add up here. Ten handguns and 61 AKs, okay. And 20 PK medium machineguns, one for every three AK-equipped grunt? Granted, the PK is more usually found at the platoon level, not the squad or fireteam, but they may have wanted some serious force multipliers, not unusual for a raiding or mercenary force, or may have wanted some extra guns for vehicle mounts- okay, I can maybe see that.
But a hundred RPGs? More than they were to have rifles and MGs combined? Unless they were expecting an additional force with small arms but no AT weapons waiting for them or planning to reinforce them later, that doesn't quite sound right.
And what in the foggy blue morning is a *PRM* machinegun? It may be a designation for something more generally known by another name, but I sure can't place it. Then there's the ownership of Boeing 727 N4610, and the little detail of that owner's best previous African customer....
Dodson Aviation: Boeing 727# 83-4610 . . . Ex-commercial 727-100 operated by ANG 4610 (c/n 18811) was formerly B-727-035 N4610 of National Airlines. National merged with Pan American and aircraft named 'Clipper Pathfinder'. Purchased by USAF Aug 21, 1984. Sold Jan 11, 2002 to Dodson International Parts, inc and then to Dodson Aviation Jan 14, 2002. Registered to Dodson Aviation as N4610. Seized by Zimbawean authorities for carrying suspected mercenaries and military equipment. Dodson supposedly had sold the plane to a South African company, Logo Ltd. U.S. point of departure: Hope Air Force Base in North Carolina...
Dodson Aviation African customer relations, DC3/C47 65-TP Turboprop conversions.
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Freddy Forsythe was a Reuters correspondent in Biafra during the Ibo-uprising/ Biafran War for Independence/ Nigerian Civil War, Sept 1966- 15 Jan 1970. He saw a thing or two in his time.
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