South African Apartheid-era hired guns in Iraq

Thousands of South African police officers and soldiers, most of them white veterans of the old apartheid regime, have left their jobs to work as private security contractors in Iraq.

A former South African military officer who runs his own security firm conceded that most of the nation's best special forces trainers now are on the U.S. contracting payroll in Iraq.

Sensitive to its apartheid-era reputation for exporting soldiers of fortune to wars across Africa, the young, black-led government in Pretoria recently drafted the harshest anti-mercenary bill in the world, a measure that would criminalize virtually all of its citizens working in Iraq.

Wages for private contractors who work as bodyguards, convoy escorts and oil field security workers in Iraq average about $10,000 a month -- more than 10 times the pay of a South African army or police captain.

A Blackwater spokeswoman said no South Africans were currently employed by her security firm in Iraq. Industry sources said most of South Africa's guns for hire rent their services to British companies, or U.S. companies with strong South African ties.

[The Chicago Tribune]

No comments: