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S. African police allured to high-pay Iraqi jobs
www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-26 20:13:01

    JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Fat pay as high as ten times of wage earned at home has allured dozens of South Africa's special-task police to Iraq to work as security personnel for the country's interim government and the coalition forces, South African media reported on Tuesday. 

    The South African Police Services (SAPS) elite Special Task Force has lost 28 members to Iraqi coalition force recruiters fromits Pretoria base in the past 18 months, with similar numbers leaving the Durban and Cape Town bases, Pretoria News reported.

    The newspaper said the Special Task Force "is facing a crisis,"because it is believed nearly 60 percent of its active task force members were lured away throughout the country.

    "The draw card for these men and women is the minimum of 1,000 US dollars they are paid every day to provide security services tothe newly formed Iraqi interim government and the coalition forces' construction experts," the report said.

    On average a South African working in Iraq can make up to 70,000 rand (11,290 dollars) a month tax free, compared with the monthly income of a police officer varying from some 4,500 rand toover 10,000 rand at home.

    And the Task Force is just one of the many SAPS specialized units that have their highly trained members lured away by Iraqi coalition force recruiters, said the report.

    The recruiters, many of whom work for the South African, British and US security companies, know these police officers are among the best in the world, because of their high-standard training, it said, quoting an anonymous insider.

    Despite the risks they faced in Iraq, Task Force members acrossthe country were leaving in "droves," said the report.

    At least 11 South African citizens have been killed in militant attacks this year in Iraq, where over 4,000 South Africans were currently employed, the South African foreign ministry estimated.

    The latest victims were former soldier Johan Botha and former policeman Louis Campher, who worked for Omega Risk Solutions, a security company to protect construction workers in Iraq. They died in an attack outside Baghdad on Oct. 12.

    National police spokesman Director Sally de Beer said the SAPS discouraged policemen or women against leaving the service and the communities they were trained to protect and they were "monitoring" South Africans working in Iraq.

    Any South African citizen caught providing military assistance to a foreign country engaged in a conflict faces prosecution under South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act and could receive aprison sentence of up to 15 years.

    De Beer said the SAPS has introduced a scarce skills retention policy to encourage members to remain in the force, with retention fees varying between 15,000 rand and 25,000 rand. Enditem


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