SA agent ‘dumped’ in Senegalese drug bust
‘Sting’ goes awry for ex-De Klerk bodyguard
A ONE time bodyguard of former first lady Marike de Klerk claims she has been left high and dry by her South African Police handler after being caught with six kilograms of cocaine in Dakar, Senegal.
Sarie Meiring was only 45 when she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1991, making her the youngest ranking female police officer in South Africa at the time, before leaving the force in 1993. She had worked as De Klerk’s personal bodyguard.
De Klerk was murdered in December 2001 by Luyanda Mboniswa who is serving a life sentence.
Meiring, from Kyalami, returned to the force more than a decade later – not as a fulltime member but as a registered informer. She was apparently working undercover as a drug mule in a transcontinental narcotics operation at the time of her arrest at Dakar International Airport on July 30 last year. She was en route to South Africa after collecting a cocaine consignment on behalf of a Nigerian syndicate in South America.
The claims are given credence in conversations between a friend of Meiring and her police handler, as well as a series of SMS communications, to which Weekend Argus has had access.
In these, the handler, an operative from the police’s Crime Intelligence Gathering (CIG) unit, whose name is known to Weekend Argus, confirms he was aware of the operation and that Meiring was in constant contact with him as it unfolded between two continents – starting when she flew from Johannesburg to Dakar on July 18, 2009, then on to Sao Paul, Buenos Aires, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, before retur ning to Africa again via Dakar – where she was arrested with the six kilograms of cocaine in her possession on July 30.
It also emerged from the records that Meiring expressed concer ns for her personal safety as the drug-run unfolded, but allegedly was repeatedly reassured by the handler that everything was under control and that she would be looked after in all eventualities.
As she prepared to leave for Dakar, the handler apparently advised her to pull out of the operation, but by that time it was too late and it was no longer an option to withdraw. Two weeks later she was taken into custody by the Senegalese police.
Dayanand Naidoo, Consular Services chief director, con- firmed that Meiring was being held in a Dakar prison. “I can confirm her arrest and that she has appeared in court.”
Meiring faces a long jail sentence if convicted. Her handler says in the recording that CIG is unable to intervene as it could cause a “diplomatic” incident if it were admitted that South African law enforcement authorities were conducting operations on foreign soil without that country’s permission.
A former intelligence operative and handler of undercover agents contacted by Weekend Argus said law enforcement protocols governing cross-border undercover operations require that the authorities of the host country – in this case Senegal, as well as all the South American countries where Meiring stopped over – be informed and give their blessing. In the absence of such agreements, the undercover agent enjoys no protection.
“But getting the authorisations involves a lot of paperwork, and, often compromises the security of the operation, so often enough, the handlers don’t bother, they just hope for the best, hope the whatsit does not hit the fan… like it has this time around.”
On the day of her departure from South Africa, Meiring met a group of Nigerians. She told a friend it sounded like they wanted to book two bags under her name on to her flight. She called her handler.
“I heard him tell her don’t worry, don’t worry,” the friend said. “She told me she was just double checking that Intelligence would ‘retrieve’ her if things went awry.”
STRANDED: Sarie Meiring is in a Dakar prison.