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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
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A map of Pomfret in South Africa
On Crossing Continents on Thursday, Jonathan Charles reports from Pomfret, on the edge of the Kalahari desert, which is in the sights of the South African government as it seeks to stamp out "mercenary" activity.

A new South African law aims to crack down on mercenaries but critics say it could stop people working legitimately in conflict areas.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.


I think is important for the whole world to notice and recognise the effort the South African government is making to reduce new conflicts in Africa. Would you prefer new conflicts where hundreds of thousands of Africans lose their lives and properties or 5,000 or so South Africans lose their jobs?
Yaya Kanagi (Gambia), Tulsa, US

Why shouldn't people be allowed to work as mercenaries? The trade goes back into the mists of time.
Jack, Bristol, UK

You risk being apologists for the former apartheid regime
Polly Radcliffe, UK
I thought this was an extraordinary programme. Surely the BBC should not be setting itself up as judge and jury to democratically-elected governments in the developing world? In this programme you risk being apologists for the former apartheid regime.
Polly Radcliffe, UK

South Africa produced has mercenaries, because up until 1992 national service was the only certainty after secondary education for young males. With high unemployment what else are these ex-soldiers supposed to do, join organised crime?
James W Maxwell, England (Lived in RSA for 22 years)

Mercenaries serve anyone with enough money to undermine legitimate governments in any country. Like pirates, they are the enemies of all mankind.
Lawrence, Malta

It's time for the South African government to put a stringent measure in place to curb these mercenaries. I would rather see these mercenaries forming a peace movement than helping to fuel war. Enough of all these illicit activities.

War is not always the best solution
Omorodion Osula, Boston, US
The impact of war is usually horrendous and beyond human comprehension. It takes a country decades to recover from it. In this day-and-age, countries should use dialogue and peaceful negotiations to resolve issues rather than going to war. War is not always the best solution.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, US

What is the difference between a terrorist and a mercenary, except that a mercenary is paid to do the dirty job and a terrorist may not be.

Coup organisers who use mercenaries are themselves terrorists. No government should allow foreigners to recruit its people for any security jobs abroad without its approval.

I think South Africa must go ahead and put the law reform in place.
Walter, UK

Why shouldn't SA stop its citizens from participating in illegal wars? I witnessed the mayhem SA mercenaries caused in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola, all in the name of protecting the apartheid regime.
I hope that the legislation goes through
Garikai Ngwenya, Zimbabwe

Just because the white minority government is no longer in power it does not follow that what was illegal then should be legal now. I hope that the legislation goes through.
Garikai Ngwenya, Zimbabwe

Jonathon Charles was not impartial in his reporting of the "marginalisation" of the notorious 32 Battalion and the men involved with the attempted coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. South Africa has long been known internationally for its exporting of mercenaries, often SAS trained. It is a good thing for Africa that the authorities there are now attempting to reduce this activity.
Wendy Toomey, UK

Jonathan Charles is in South Africa, talking to South Africans. There is no excuse therefore for him to mispronounce the word "apartheid". It seems that BBC journalists think they know best, when they frequently and persistently do not. They should listen and learn!
Romey Buchheit, UK (ex Zimbabwe)


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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South Africa's 'mercenary' town
30 Mar 06 |  Crossing Continents

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