Tutsis armed by South Africa
After revelations that a firm based in Britain had supplied the Rwandan Hutus with weapons, The Independent has learnt that the opposing side - the Zairean rebels who are mainly Tutsi - are getting their weapons via both former and serving members of the South African services.
According to sources in the South African intelligence services, Ters Ehlers, a former personal assistant to the former S African state president PW Botha, is co-ordinating one of the operations, using his contacts in South African industry and the armed forces. The United Nations has launched an investigation into his activities.
Mr Ehlers and his associates, who include a former colonel in military intelligence and a retired general from the South African National Defence Force, are using their considerable contacts in the shadowy world of the South African intelligence and arms community to orchestrate an illegal operation that is destabilising Africa.
Sources in the police and national intelligence service say that arms and ammunition are flown by C-130 transport aircraft from Lanseria airport near Johannesburg to Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire. From there the aircraft flies to destinations in Angola and Rwanda supplying weapons to both the Angolan rebel movement, Unita, and the Zairean Tutsi groups. The arms are shipped as mining equipment by a company known as CMC, an Angolan- based company which is also registered in Zaire, according to the sources.
This allows the arms traders to fly the aircraft on a legitimate flight plan to Kinshasa on the pretext of supplying mining equipment. Once in Kinshasa it refuels and flies to airfields in the south-east of Zaire, Rwanda and Angola. The lack of any adequate air traffic control and radar in Kinshasa enables the aircraft to fly to its destinations undetected.
A separate investigation is also being conducted by the South African police and the National Intelligence Service into a senior South African National Defence Force general and an ex-special forces officer who are alleged to be providing training to rebel and dissident groups throughout central Africa, including the Zairean Tutsis. The company being investigated is called Omega Support Ltd and is run by Johan Smith, South Africa's former military attache in Angola.
Mr Smith also works for a company called Strategic Concepts which is also being investigated by the police. It is run by a former apartheid- era diplomat, Sean Cleary. As well as being an advisor to Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader, Mr Cleary has also worked for the South African foreign affairs department and military intelligence.
It has been believed for some time that elements within the South African officialdom were pursuing an agenda outside governmental control. This is a theme that characterised the apartheid years but the aim is now different.
During apartheid, such activities were done primarily to destabilise South Africa's regional neighbours to undermine opposition to the apartheid regime. Now the same policy continues but the rewards are financial rather than political.
Out of the myriad security organisations that evolved during apartheid and which, with minor transformations continue to this day, military intelligence is the "dark horse". It has been the least affected by the change of government and retains individuals in it that were very active in covert operations during apartheid.
According to Stephen Ellis of the African Studies Centre in the Netherlands: "The South African Defence Force and their intelligence organisations virtually escaped scrutiny into their role in covert operations whereas the police operations have been largely exposed and have crumbled."
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