Savimbi's former allies now march to Luanda's drum: Pretoria-based company recruits veterans of Namibia war to bolster Angolan army in its struggle with Unita

ELITE counter-insurgency troops formerly serving with the South African security forces in Namibia are being recruited to help the Angolan army in its war against Jonas Savimbi's Unita rebel movement.

A security company based in Pretoria has been signing up former members of the notorious Koevoet unit and of 32 Battalion, a force made up largely of Angolans commanded by South Africans and foreign mercenaries and which once fought alongside Unita. 'A lot of Angolans were in Koevoet, and they are good because they speak the language and have family back in Angola,' said Eden Barlow, head of the security company, Executive Outcomes. The men would be used to train Angolan soldiers.

The Namibian government, led by the South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo), which used to fight the South African-commanded Koevoet during its independence war, has been worried that recruitment of mercenaries for the Angolan conflict could involve Namibia in the war.

This month Namibian police detained and deported a man who claimed to be working for Executive Outcomes, after he was found recruiting ex-Koevoet members in the north Namibian town of Oshakati. Mr Barlow denied anyone working for his company had been detained and suggested that other recruiters had been using his company's name when they got into trouble with the authorities.

Large numbers of foreign soldiers, purportedly employed by 'security companies', have been turning up in the Angolan capital, Luanda, since the country returned to full-scale civil war in October 1992 following Mr Savimbi's refusal to accept defeat in a general election the previous month.

The companies range from the established Defence Systems Ltd based in Jersey, whose employees guard United Nations installations and the British embassy in Luanda, to rather shady firms that claim to have links with senior officials of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

Earlier this month Luanda said it had expelled 18 employees of a security company called Ango-Segu Ltd and run by a former colonel in the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. Next day gunmen raided the company's warehouses. The government said the company had hundreds of illegal weapons. Western military sources in Luanda said Ango-Segu Ltd was suspected of passing sensitive military intelligence to Unita.

The South African Defence Force showed recently its displeasure at the recruitment drive by temporarily grounding a plane owned by a Swiss-based company as it was about to leave Lanseria airport, outside Pretoria, for Luanda with 18 ex-SADF troops. Last month a plane landed at Lanseria with one dead and one wounded soldier on board, apparently from shrapnel. Two other men fled before they could be questioned.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before