Interesting little story, and maybe some folks from Omega Strategic Services can elaborate on this one. –Matt
By Peter Fabricius
November 18, 2009
Several South Africans, led by a former SA Police Service officer, are working for a Dubai-based security company in Guinea, providing protection and training to the military junta which seized power in a December coup and has been ostracised by African organisations, security sources say.South Africa’s director-general of international relations and co-operation, Ayanda Ntsaluba, said yesterday the government’s information also suggested that the South Africans allegedly working for the junta were employed by “companies operating largely through Dubai”.Ntsaluba declined to name the company, but intelligence sources said the South Africans had been in the turbulent West African state for at least a month, working for Omega Strategic Services (OSS) to provide security and military training for the military junta headed by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.UN diplomats have corroborated the reports of mercenaries helping the junta
The contingent in Guinea is headed by Daniel Oosthuizen, the OSS director of operations and a veteran of 18 years’ service in the SAPS, according to the sources.Ntsaluba said the South African government was trying to verify French media reports about the presence of South African mercenaries in Guinea, providing training for the junta’s soldiers and securing imports of weapons from Ukraine.UN diplomats have corroborated the reports of mercenaries helping the junta. South African intelligence sources said the South Africans had started arriving in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, on October 13 because Camara feared that he might be himself be toppled in a coup.The turbulence increased dramatically after September 28 when Camara’s troops attracted worldwide condemnation by firing on protesters against the junta and killing about 150 of them, according to the UN, though the junta itself puts the figure at about 50.Oosthuizen is heading the OSS operation in Guinea
According to its website, the founder and CEO of OSS is Zachary L Venegas, “a West Point graduate with a degree in classical Arabic and Portuguese languages” who “served with distinction as an infantry officer in a wide variety of conventional and special assignments before leaving military service as a captain”.It says the director of operations is Oosthuizen – “an 18-year veteran of the South African police force, including more than a decade in the Violent Crime Unit. Oosthuizen led investigations and testified in a variety of high-profile criminal cases, and was selected to lecture to candidate detectives.”Prior to joining OSS, Oosthuizen was the chief operating officer of a specialist security firm providing polygraph, canine and investigative services. He completed the National Diploma in Police Administration and also holds a diploma in Psycho Physiological Detection.”According to the intelligence sources, Oosthuizen is heading the OSS operation in Guinea. The sources have named nine other South Africans, mostly ex-SAPS officers, also working for OSS in Guinea, but say there are others involved. Some reports put the number as high as 50, but other sources say OSS has failed to recruit as many as it wanted, and that the actual figure is between 20 and 30.The South Africans are training the presidential guards, marines and intelligence agents and providing security in some of the country’s mines.The South Africans have also escorted considerable quantities of military equipment bought from Ukraine and smuggled into Conakry in defiance of an international arms embargo against Guinea, the sources say. .They allege that OSS is being paid in gold and other mineral resources and that all the South Africans are armed and are acting as a special independent sub-unit of the presidency. That is creating tensions between them and the leadership of the Presidential Guard. Guard members have reportedly arrested some of the South Africans.Ntsaluba suggested on Tuesday that the government’s concern was that if South Africans were involved, they were being used to prepare the junta for a violent ethnic clash. He said the South Africans would be training militias recruited largely from the ethnic group which supports the junta to prepare them for an expected negative reaction to the junta in the run-up to elections.After seizing power in December last year, Camara had given the understanding that he would not run for office in the elections. But that had later changed, and civil society had reacted negatively, leading to the “carnage” on September 28, Ntsaluba said.The military leadership, however, still seemed determined to run for office, and was expecting further negative reaction. “This is how the issue of the South Africans comes up. It is very significant for us. We love our country and we would not like to see it involved in nefarious actions, especially when those run counter to the policies of the African Union and would undermine our own foreign policy.”The revelation about the South Africans embroiled in Guinea follows shortly after President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea released British-born Simon Mann and four South Africans, including Niek du Toit, who had been jailed for long prison terms for trying to topple his government in a coup attempt that went badly awry in March, 2004.Partly as a result, in 2006 the South African Parliament passed, and then-president Thabo Mbeki signed, the Prohibition of Mercenary Activity and Regulation of Certain Activities in Areas of Armed Conflict Act, making it illegal for South African citizens to serve in foreign armies or security forces abroad without first receiving permission from the South African government.But legal experts say that even though the legislation had been signed, it had not come into effect as it had not been properly promulgated and no regulations had been published to implement it.