CONVICTED British mercenary Simon Mann has instructed his Zimbabwean lawyer Jonathan Samukange to sue the state to recover the US$188 000 he paid for firearms from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) and an additional US$180 000 which was forfeited to the government.
By Hazel Ndebele
Mann landed at Harare International Airport in March 2004 with 70 mercenaries enroute to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where he wanted to stage a military coup against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
The mercenaries intended to pick up weapons bought from the ZDI in Harare.
The Zimbabwean government, however, arrested Mann and his colleagues before impounding his aeroplane and seizing US$180 000 which was in the plane.
The mercenaries were charged and found guilty of violating the country’s immigration, firearms and security laws.
Sources close to the developments told the Zimbabwe Independent the arrest was a set-up as Mann had bought a consignment of AK-47 assault rifles, mortars and 30 000 rounds of ammunition for US$188 000 from ZDI with the blessing of senior officials. It was alleged that then ZDI general manager retired Colonel Tshinga Dube was aware of the trap.
Mann, however, did not get the firearms despite paying and, therefore, wants a refund together with his money which was inside the plane.
Samkange told the Independent this week that he will sue the state for the unlawful forfeiture of the money which was inside Mann’s aircraft as well as for a refund for the firearms.
“The forfeiture of the US$180 000 was unlawful because the money does not belong to government therefore I have been instructed to sue, moreover to sue for the recovery of the money used to buy firearms as government cannot keep both the money and the arms,” said Samukange.
He said Mann is legally entitled to reclaim the money.
Mann’s plane was also seized and has been grounded at the Harare International Airport since 2004.
Sources told this paper government wants to fly the plane to Equatorial Guinea, but has failed to do so without necessary registration from the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
Government has failed to meet Iata’s registration requirements for the aircraft since 2005. Amongst others requirements, Iata demands proof of ownership.
“Iata has refused to register the plane in the name of government because it was impounded unlawfully, moreover government or the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe could not justify ownership of the plane,” said the source.
In his 2011 book Cry Havoc Mann confirms that the intention of the mercenaries on their journey to Equatorial Guinea was “to remove one of the most brutal dictators in Africa in a privately-organised coup d’etat”.
Mann, according to his lawyer, has received various offers to turn his book into a film. He is currently staying in London and, interestingly, is now employed by Obiang — the long-time West African despot he wanted to overthrow.