South Africa’s ageing white mercenaries who helped turn tide on Boko Haram

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South Africa’s ageing white mercenaries who helped turn tide on Boko Haram

“But the South African government doesn’t want them to exist. They wish them off the planet. When they come back from Nigeria, it will try to prosecute them and put them in jail. Because the colour of these men is white, it makes laws that stop them earning money off shore. How wrong can you be? There is now reverse racism and it’s difficult for white people to get a job.”

A recurring theme is a sense of grievance and resentment among ex-soldiers who perceive today’s South Africa as loaded against them, even though statistics consistently show that the white minority still enjoys disproportionate access to education, jobs and wealth

And the image of drunk, depressive adventurers was old hat, Heitman argued. “That may have been true of mercenaries in the sixties. The ones I know are pretty serious soldiers and family men. They’re not ones for boozy parties. There are some among them who were having booze and parties in the past but now they’re in their 50s and 60s and serious guys.”


I must say I don’t understand why current South African Laws are framed in such a way that these people can’t go and freely practice their ‘trade’ in private companies elsewhere. It can’t possibly be justifiable, if some of them were not directly responsible for anything of great concern during their time in the SANDF. It’s a different thing if they are known to have committed atrocities(or there is credible evidence to this effect) during the apartheid era (Is that the case for each one of them? Or are the lines blurred..?). In such a case, then there would be good reason to have them prosecuted. But even then, actions would have to be evidence based, and not wholesale and speculative.

Otherwise, I’m inclined to dismiss the South African laws as short-sighted, more so on the part of the ANC government since it is roundly accepted that each of these men possesses a substantial amount of experience – which could benefit efforts against terrorism elsewhere across the world. As remote as such a prospect may sound, imagine an army consisting of South African mercenaries hand in hand with other military groups being dispatched to Libya, Syria and Iraq to add to the pressure against Islamic State. Shouldn’t we be throwing everything against the extremists operating in these countries? Especially when Europeans and Americans are reluctant to commit troops to these missions. Hardly anyone believes Islamic State can be defeated without ground forces. I think additional troops(of the order 50,000), other than those currently fighting IS, will be required to make any serious progress. Thus, if experience can be gained from South African mercenaries, why can’t they be enlisted?

Never mind Boko Haram, what about further reinforcements in the fight against the likes of Al Shabbab and Islamic State? I think it is a waste of talent and self-limiting to neglect experienced men, and put impediments in their paths, blocking them from practicing their vocation – when the world stands to benefit in the event that they succeed.

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