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Koevoet, 32 battalion and the coup plot...

Published Mar 14, 2004

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By Christelle Terblanche and Peter Fabricus

The alleged plan to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea was hatched on farm in Walkerville, about 40km south of Johannesburg.

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The farm, sources have told The Sunday Independent, is owned by a farmer well-known in right-wing circles. Although the South African authorities are keen to ask the farmer some questions, their actions largely depend on the developments in Harare and Equatorial Guinea, where 70 men have been held for plotting to overthrow the government of President Obiang Nguema.

The majority of those held in Harare held South African citizenship but were not born in this country. Most of them worked for the notorious 32 battalion and Koevoet, a special force which operated under the South African Defence Force. In 1994, most of the men, originally from Namibia and Angola, were integrated into the South African National Defence Force and given South African citizenship.

We have been further been able to ascertain that the South African authorities were so concerned about the group that when it left from the Polokwane Airport, they were subjected to extensive searches. Their passports and other documents in their possession were photocopied. Although the border authorities were suspicious of the mission, they allowed the group to depart because, among other things, they said that they were going to erect fences in Democratic Republic of Congo and Bujumbura, Burundi. Amongst the equipment they carried were wire cutters.

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Sources also told The Sunday Independent that in addition to arm purchased in Zimbabwe, the group had planned to collect additional ammunition in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Simon Mann, a former British Special Force soldier who now holds South African citizenship, is said to have paid $180 000 (about R1,4-million) for a consignment of weapons, believed to be mainly AK-47 assault rifles.

Equatorial Guinea this week sent a top level delegation to thank the South African government for alerting them about the planned coup.

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In the next few days, top investigators from the National Intelligence Agency, Military Intelligence and the SAPS' Crime Intelligence are expected to arrive in Equatorial Guinea to assist with investigations into the coup plot.

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