SA agent ‘dumped’ in Sene­galese drug bust

‘Sting’ goes awry for ex-De Klerk body­guard

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - LYNNETTE JOHNS

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.

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