South African UN worker held in Sudan

KATHARINE CHILD | 2012-04-30 00:08:14.0

South African UN worker held in Sudan - Times LIVE

A South Sudan soldier walks at a ruptured oil well in South Sudan's Unity State. South Sudan has been embroiled in cross-border violence with Sudan that the UN says is threatening world peace.

Within 24hours of a South African being killed in Somalia another was captured in Sudan.

Saturday's capture of Thabo Siave came after Lodewyk Pietersen, 55, was shot dead on Friday in Puntland, Somalia, allegedly by his bodyguard.

Pietersen, employed by South African security firm Saracens International, was said to be on an anti-piracy operation.

He worked in Somalia for 18 months training locals in anti-piracy operations.

Pietersen's son, Ben, described his father, a former defence force paratrooper, as a devout Christian "who lived his life without any regrets".

"We spoke to him every day. We last saw him six weeks ago when he was on holiday in South Africa. We will miss him," said Pietersen.

Saracens International declined to comment.

Siave, who works for Mechem, a subsidiary of state-owned arms company Denel, was part of a UN team removing land mines in South Sudan.

He was captured on Saturday by Sudan soldiers who also took a Briton, a Norwegian and a Southern Sudanese. All four were part of the UN mission in South Sudan.

Mechem chief executive Ashley Williams confirmed the capture and said Siave was alive and well in Sudan's capital, Khartoum.

He denied early reports that the team had been in Sudan and had been involved in military operations.

"We expect them to be released at the earliest possible time and are working with the UN and South African diplomatic representatives to ensure that they are not harmed."

Department of International Relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said the department was aware of both incidents.


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