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From Business Day in South Africa:
04 August 2006
Parliament rejects UK plea on mercenary bill
CAPE TOWN — Parliament’s defence committee has rejected a plea from British high commissioner Paul Boateng for South Africans serving in the British armed forces to be exempted from the anti-mercenary bill.
This may raise some diplomatic heat.
Boateng made a plea for the more than 700 South Africans in British uniforms to be exempted from having to apply for authority to join the armed services of another country in an unprecedented address to the committee on Tuesday.
ANC MPs said they would “sleep on the matter” but yesterday rejected the request.
Ex Apartheid thugs now as mercenaries in Iraq: here.
A pro mercenary South African article:
South Africa: Cape Soldier Who Died for the Greater Good
Cape Argus (Cape Town)
March 10, 2007
Posted to the web March 12, 2007
Lance-Bombardier Ross Clark, 25, was killed in action at Sangin in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on March 3. He and his best friend, Liam “Paddy” McLaughlin, died while manning a heavily-fortified sangar (lookout post) which was hit by a rocket- propelled grenade. The tragedy brought the number of British casualties in Afghanistan to 50 since the Taliban was removed from power in 2001.
Clark is more than another British statistic. Born in Zimbabwe, he was schooled and raised in Somerset West outside Cape Town, joining the British Army five years ago.
By all accounts he was an exceptional soldier, destined for higher things. He had excelled on exercises around the world from Norway to Belize, had participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and had been accepted into the elite 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, where he was trained as a forward observer, a dangerous and highly demanding role.
A talented triathlete, he had received provincial colours in South Africa for mountain-biking. Described as “enormously strong and physically capable” by his commanding officer, he was also “a determined, intelligent and motivated young man who epitomised the standards of professionalism against which we measure ourselves”. As is to be expected, perhaps, of a man born into a farming family, with Sam Tingle, the tough-as-teak Zimbabwean Formula One racing driver, as his maternal grandfather.
I met Clark only once, during that most southern African of occasions – a braai. I was struck by his zest for life, and an alarming maturity and self-confidence for one so young. This reflected both his personal calibre and the responsibility the armed forces emphasise, especially an army engaged in operational deployments.
Two South Africans have been killed in the British Army in Afghanistan in the past year. This is unsurprising given that more than 600 South Africans are today in the British armed forces, and a high percentage, like Clark, in special forces’ units such as the Royal Marines and Paras. The command building and touch rugby fields at the headquarters in Kabul rang with South African accents during the recent British-led International Security Assistance Mission which completed its nine-month rotation this February.
The bearing of arms is a personal choice, unfathomable to some, a lifelong ambition for others. Certainly Clark always wanted to be a soldier. And the reasons why these highly motivated, mostly white, young men and women choose to avoid the South African services and beat a path to Britain appears mostly to be about career opportunity, professional standards and a perception of racial discrimination back home. Local legislation outlawing such service by South Africans will do little to quench this burning ambition or change the market reality.
Yet, theirs is still a career with little financial reward and now, since 9/11, scant respite from operational duty. Clark’s death and that of his colleague will no doubt strengthen the clamour to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq. …
Greg Mills was a special adviser to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul in 2006, his account of which, From Africa to Afghanistan: With Richards and NATO to Kabul, will be published in May.
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