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FACTDROP: The British woman and Gaddafi’s doomed getaway


The British woman and Gaddafi’s doomed getaway

Πηγή: PressDisplay
By Kim Sengupta
Nov 3 2011

(Thanks to Herman for the following correction: "On 30 October City Press published a report entitled “SA Mercenaries were misled”. The report referred to allegations that the London based Hart Security had contracted South African mercenaries through an intermediary to render certain services in Libya. The reference to Hart Security in the report was published in error. City Press regrets the error and retracts the allegation.")

Security expert casts light on how a mercenary escort may have been recruited for the tyrant’s final flight

South African mercenaries said to have been involved in an operation to save Muammar Gaddafi and his family from revolutionary forces at the end of the civil war in Libya may have been sent by a multinational oil company.

A woman of British and Kenyan extraction involved in the security field has disclosed that she was asked to recruit a private force for work in Libya by an oil company as the conflict reached its violent climax,
has learnt. Some South African “soldiers of fortune” were said to have been with Colonel Gaddafi when he was captured, tortured and killed by rebel forces as he tried to flee the besieged city of Sirte. Others from the contingent are believed to be guarding the dictator’s son, Saif al-islam, currently on the run in the border region of Chad, Niger and Algeria.

The name of Sarah Penfold, who is based in Nairobi, and describes herself as an “executive protection and security specialist”, has repeatedly come up in accounts of the private forces working in Libya. She has denied that she had any part in dealing with the Gaddafi family.

She told an Two men guarding Gaddafi are said to have been killed acquaintance in South Africa: “I was asked by a friend to get some guys together to do PSD [private security detail] and training in Libya for a well known oil company to protect their assets and personnel. I sent an email round asking guys to go for an interview and forward it to others. That’s all.”

However, according to sources, a group of these security contractors had, unknown toms Penfold, taken part in the Gaddafi mission. Some are reported to have been injured and at least two killed when the dictator’s convoy was ambushed by Nato air strikes and rebel attacks on the ground.

Ms Penfold suggested that another security group, running a parallel operation in Libya, may have been the ones who suffered the casualties. She continued: “Then I find out from some intel friends that your lovely head of police with his ANC links got a load of police guys together… These, I presume, were the guys who got hit.”

There is no evidence to suggest that the current head of the police force in South Africa is linked in any way to private security operations in Libya. However, the name of a former senior police officer has surfaced in connection with the mission. He has denied any involvement.

Although Ms Penfold is insistent that she has done nothing wrong over recruitment for Libya, her entry in a social networking site has now been removed. Her profile read: “Trained in advanced and tactical high-speed driving. Medically trained to first aid level 2 and 3, with a focus on trauma injuries.”

Some of the South Africans involved in Libya are believed to be veterans of a failed attempt to overthrow the dictator of Equatorial Guineain the “Wonga Coup”, led by former SAS officer Simon Mann 11 years ago.
Cruise Steyl, a former business partner of Sir Mark Thatcher and, with him, involved in the coup plot, was contacted two days after Gaddafi’s death and asked whether he would be prepared to help evacuate a group of stranded South African mercenaries from Libya.

Mr Steyl, an experienced pilot, said: “The call came on Saturday evening and I was told just how urgent the whole situation was and a fair amount of money was on offer. But what happened in Equatorial Guinea was a while ago, I have my own business now and I don’t want that to get involved in that kind of activity.”

Backgound articles

Gaddafi’s SA soldiers by The New Age 

A team of South African mercenaries helped Muammar Gaddafi’s family out of the war zone of Tripoli, Libya’s capital, to hide out in Algeria, prior to the Libyan despot’s killing in Sirte last week.

The team returned to South Africa within a week of the successful clandestine operation. Not so lucky was a second team, which went to support Gaddafi’s escape to Niger, but got caught in the fire fight between the dictator’s henchmen and Nato.

The second team was allegedly cornered by Libyan freedom fighters, which led to one South African’s death and numerous casualties among the rest of the mercenaries.

The first team of 24 men launched the audacious covert operation at the beginning of September to spirit Gaddafi’s wife and three surviving children away to safety in Algeria. A week later the team arrived safely back in South Africa.

“The first team was a mixed bag of former South African policemen and soldiers,” sources told The New Age. But the second team of 19 former South African policemen were not so lucky.

They were part of the security for Gaddafi’s convoy to neighbouring Niger when they were attacked by Nato forces and got pinned down in fierce fighting outside Sirte last week. The team has since gone to ground after the death of Gaddafi – who called himself Brother Leader.

“The 19 missing in Libya are all ex-police officers,” said The New Age’s intelligence source on Monday.

Describing last week’s involvement of South African mercenaries in efforts to extract the former Libyan dictator as “ill-fated from the outset”, the source said the second team might have been under the impression that the extraction of Gaddafi had been sanctioned by the UN.

Two separate teams of South African mercenaries were recruited in August on behalf of Gaddafi as part of the elaborate plan to protect and extract the despot and his family to safety.

According to sources, the interviews for the two teams were conducted in Sandton and Cape Town by an international recruitment company, but without either’s knowledge of the other’s existence. The South Africans mercenaries were apparently paid $15000 (R125000) each.

Interviews for the extraction operations were conducted on August 17 at the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton by Sarah Penfold, who operates from Kenya for a British mercenary outfit. The New Age has seen copies of an email sent to a former SA Special Forces operative, inviting him for an interview. The first mercenary group left South Africa two days after the interviews, flying from OR Tambo Airport to Dubai.

From there they flew to Tunisia, which shares borders with Algeria and Libya, where they were issued with firearms. They then travelled by road into Libya. Gaddafi’s wife, Safiya, his daughter, Aisha, and his sons, Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, were escorted to Algeria.

Former police commissioner George Fivaz told The New Age yesterday that his security firm, Fivaz and Associates, was contacted from London at the weekend by people urgently looking for an air ambulance to evacuate about 50 wounded and badly burned war victims from Libya.

Fivaz said his firm did not provide this type of service and he believed there was, in any case, no such large air ambulance available in South Africa.

Mark Young, spokesperson of Criticare in London, said the company had been contracted for casavac operations in Libya but he had no knowledge of any South Africans needing evacuation.

He said Criticare was looking for a big air ambulance and had been told he might find one in South Africa. “We contacted Saafair in but we were told their plane had been contracted to the UN,” Young said.

There was an air ambulance with the capacity of 10 to 20 patients available in Austria, but there were problems with the insurance because it had to fly into war zones.

“We have to evacuate five to 10 wounded and badly burned victims a day for the next two months from Libya as part of our contract,” Young said. The victims included Libyans, Nato forces and other casualties from around the world, he said.

SA mercenaries 'were misled by news24

Tripoli - Colonel Muammar Gaddafi probably really thought he was going to “live in a tent in the Karoo”, but South African mercenaries actually helped him from the frying pan into the fire.

Speaking to one of the South African operators who was at Gaddafi’s side and a senior source in the intelligence world, City Press discovered the mercenaries were probably also misled into thinking they were helping Gaddafi.

Their involvement was really only part of a larger plan to capture Gaddafi, it now appears.

A few of them are still in Libya after they were approached by a security company in August to assist in moving Gaddafi out of his hometown of Sirte and “bring him to South Africa”.

The recruiting was done by Sarah Penfold, a well-known name in the industry based in Kenya, who apparently acted on behalf of a company in London.

South Africa’s State Security Agency is aware of her visit to Johannesburg on August 17, and she is being investigated.


Gaddafi himself apparently requested assistance from the private security industry.

Subsequently, negotiations were held in which he allegedly made demands concerning his planned stay in South Africa.

One of the operators, Danie Odendaal, told City Press that in his correspondence Gaddafi insisted he be accommodated in a tent in a hot region – preferably desert-like.

He said they still speculated that the only suitable place in South Africa would be the Karoo.

After being issued with false passports, three groups of South Africans flew to Dubai and Cairo, from where they hurriedly flew to Libya to assist Gaddafi.

But things turned into a “disgusting, disgusting orgy” when Nato forces fired on Gaddafi’s convoy before transitional government soldiers captured and executed him.

Abortive project

Afterwards, the details and the incredible “coincidence” of the abortive project started unfolding.

City Press has discovered there was no request to the South African authorities to bring Gaddafi, a fugitive from the International Criminal Court, here.

It would never have been allowed, a reliable government source said.

Intelligence sources believe there were agents among the mercenaries, or in some of the security companies, who were spying for the transitional government and reporting on the mercenaries’ movements.

Nato launched its attack on Gaddafi with deadly precision, and Odendaal believes someone “sold them out”.

There is another group of South Africans in Libya, but City Press has learned they are not under arrest. They come and go as they like, and some live in hotels.

No one wants to comment

Former police commissioner George Fivaz said he received a call from a man in London last week who wanted to hire a 50-seat air ambulance to fetch people in Libya. Fivaz told him he couldn’t help him.

City Press telephoned Hart Security in London for comment about allegations they had contracted the South Africans through Penfold.

Initially, an employee immediately ended the call. Another employee, who only identified himself as “Harry”, at first said they didn’t have any operations in Libya.

Later he said “no one will comment about this”.

Despite many telephone calls, Penfold couldn’t be reached for comment.

The South African government doesn’t want to become involved, and it’s not clear how the mercenaries will be taken out of Libya.

State Security Agency spokesperson Brian Dube said they didn’t wish to comment at this stage.


  1. Please note that News 24 and City Press has posted the following correction to this story:
    On 30 October City Press published a report entitled “SA Mercenaries were misled”. The report referred to allegations that the London based Hart Security had contracted South African mercenaries through an intermediary to render certain services in Libya. The reference to Hart Security in the report was published in error. City Press regrets the error and retracts the allegation.

  2. Thank you much for the correction.