29 June 2005
South African police, military and intelligence officials are currently working in Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Burundi and Madagascar, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told a media briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The South African government has a two-pronged approach to its efforts in Africa, Nqakula said: peacekeeping on the one hand, and assistance with expertise on the other.
Experts from the South African Police Service and/or the SA National Defence Force are currently assisting with capacity-building and election preparations in Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Peacekeeping efforts are concentrated in the Darfur region of Sudan – where an SA official is commanding a civilian police structure of over 100 police members operating under the auspices of the African Union – and in Burundi, Nqakula said.
In Madagascar, officials from SA’s National Intelligence Agency and Crime Intelligence are helping the government there consolidate a security project, he added.
Members of fledgling unified police forces from Ivory Coast and the DRC are also receiving training in South Africa, and the government has also been assisting these forces with “non-lethal” material such as computers, Nqakula said.
“Our commitment to improve cooperation and partnerships on the continent and globally continues at a vigorous pace,” the minister said.
“Our ability to ward off transnational threats and promote development lies in forging such partnerships to counter threats of mercenary activity and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, among others.”
Further afield, the government remains concerned about the activities of South Africans with military training in Iraq.
The Foreign Military Assistance Act is being tightened to close loopholes to enable effective prosecutions of South Africans fighting in foreign wars, Nqakula told journalists.
Once the amendment to the Act had been passed, South Africans involved in combat in Iraq, for instance, are likely to be prosecuted on their return to SA.
The Act is also being revised to take into account South Africans who have joined “peaceful armies” in other countries, and who are involved in humanitarian operations in conflict zones, Deputy Justice Minister Johnny de Lange told journalists.