Suspected Mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe

FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO 4

DATE REPLY SUBMITTED: 08 JUNE 2004

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 21 MAY 2004

MR DHM GIBSON (DA) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

(1) ((a) On what date (i) were 15 suspected mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea and (ii) did a South African diplomatic official first visit the group in jail and (b) what were the reasons for the delay in visiting the group in jail;

(2) whether any steps have been taken by South African diplomatic officials to assist the South African citizens currently being held at Harare Central and Chikurubi Prisons in Zimbabwe; if not, why not; if so, what steps;

(3) Whether her department intends taking specific measures to assist its citizens in both Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea in the future; if not, why not; if so, what measures? N4E

UNQUOTE

REPLY:

1. (a) (i) 8 March 2004

(ii) Yes. 19 March 2004, The South African Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea (resident in Gabon)

(b) None.

2. Yes.

Chronological Schedule of Events and Report on the Consular Visit to the
Alleged Mercenaries, Chikurubi Maximum Prison, Harare, 11-14 May 2004

1.1 The impression that had been created, quite regrettably, was that the mission had not rendered any assistance to the 70 detainees at the Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare. In this regard, please find a chronological list of measures/actions taken by the South African Embassy in Harare since the arrest of the alleged mercenaries in Zimbabwe and their incarceration at the Chikurubi Maximum Prison:

  • Assistance was given to the family of Mr MK Pain on 10 March 2004 a note verbale was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting permission for them to visit the prison;
  • Assistance was given to a friend of Mr S Mann's on 11 March 2004 a note verbale was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting permission for them to visit the prison;
  • Assistance was given to the legal team on 12 March 2004 regarding citizenship of the alleged mercenaries;
  • Assistance was given to family and friends when a note verbale was issued to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting assistance for visits to Messrs Steyl, Hamman and Pain.
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note No.57/04 permission for the Ambassador, Messrs Sithole and Reid to visit the prisoners on 12 March 2004. (The permission was granted telephonically. Please note that Messrs Khantsi and Mongale accompanied the Ambassador on 13 March 2004);
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note No. 127/04 on 4 April 2004, permission for Messrs Mtintsilana and Geerlings to attend the Court case of the alleged mercenaries;
  • Assistance was given to Mr S Bull, (a lawyer) through diplomatic note No. 62/04 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting permission for him to visit Mr S Mann;
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note No. 95/04 for Messrs Mtintsilana, Mongale, Geerlings and Khantsi to pay consular visit on 15 April 2004. (The mission was informed telephonically that the visit could not take place as the court was in session);
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note No. 98/04 for Messrs Mtintsilana, Khantsi and Ms Mpofu and Ms Hunda to pay a consular visit on 26 April 2004. (No response was received from the Ministry);
  • The mission issued eight (8) note verbales to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 19 April 2004, note verbale No's 101/04 - 118/95 requesting for Ms MD Pain, Ms C Wheeler, Mr N Du Preez, Ms TP Horn, Ms YV van der Stoep, Mrs PA Archer and Ms JM Steyl to visit the prison. (The visit was to the following detainees; Messrs MK Pain, NJ Steyl, L Du Preez, LJ Horn and RS Archer);
  • The mission issued a note verbale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26 April 2004, note verbale No. 118/04 requesting for Ms C Wheeler, Ms M Pain, Ms V Noel, Messrs DD Archer, N Du Preez and S Teubes to visit the prison. (The visit was to the following detainees; Messrs JN Steyl, K Pain and RS Archer);
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note No. 126/04 for Messrs Mtintsilana, Mokgwamme, Paadi and Geerlings to pay a consular visit on 7 May 2004. (The Head of the Chikurubi Prisons verbally informed the Embassy that a communication was forwarded to him regarding the mission's visit. However access was denied, as the prison required the list of all the detainees the Embassy intended visiting);
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note No. 133/04 was sent on 7 May 2004 as a follow- up request for Messrs Mtintsilana, Ellis, Khantsi, Geerlings and Mongale to pay a consular visit on 11 May 2004. (Approval granted telephonically);
  • The mission requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic note approval for family members to visit certain of the alleged mercenaries. The application was made on Thursday, 13 May for the visit to take place on 14 May on humanitarian grounds. (Approval granted verbally and the family members visited the detainees. The usual time frame for applications is 7 days).

1.2 Both the Ambassador as well as members of staff in the mission have met with and assisted family members and lawyers from the date of arrest.

1.3 The Counsellor Management at the mission has with the assistance of other diplomats at the mission attended the court hearings from the date that it had commenced.

1.4 During the recent consular visit, officials met and had discussions with both the lawyer and certain family members. Officials assisted the lawyer (Mr Alwyn Griebenow) at the prison by facilitating food parcels, the removal of leg irons and other matters. Further, the family members were assisted with the prison visit. The mission is assisted with taking toiletries and jerseys to prisoners during the week of 17 May.

3. No. The consular services that are to be provided to the detainees will be done in terms of existing prescripts.



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