Home International SA man pocketing millions extracting people from war-torn Ukraine

SA man pocketing millions extracting people from war-torn Ukraine

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A South African man is reported to be leading the evacuation of Ukrainians and making millions of dollars in the process.

An aerial view shows a residential building destroyed by shelling in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine. Picture: Reuters/Maksim Levin

A SOUTH African man is reported to be leading the evacuation of Ukrainians and making millions of dollars in the process.

Canadian-American author and expert on private military companies (PMCs) Robert Young Pelton told the BBC that there was currently a frenzy in the market for private contractors to evacuate people and families from Ukraine.

He said the paid security workers included former soldiers trained in lethal combat and weaponry and it has proved to be a popular escape route for those with enough wealth to pay their way to safety.

Speaking to the BBC, the CEO of Mosaic, a US-headquartered intelligence and security advisory firm, Tony Schiena (whose firm is already in Ukraine) said the larger the group of people to extract the higher the risk.

Children and families were more difficult to evacuate.

“It all depends on the methods we use to get them across,” Schiena told the BBC.

Schiena is a former South African intelligence operative whose firm is said to have several former high-ranking US intelligence officials on board.

He said they were working with private clients, corporations and politically exposed people to assist them in evacuating from Ukraine.

His company provides not only private security but counter-terrorism training, and other similar services.

Schiena also featured in the Vice documentary “Superpower for Hire” and has been credited with exposing ISIS’s use of chemical warfare in Iraq.

The network reported that there were agencies with skilled former soldiers and extraction teams willing to enter into the country in covert operations, for which they can get paid up to $2,000 (around R30,000) a day plus bonuses to help people escape the war-torn nation.

On Monday, South African citizen Kaone Molefe landed at OR Tambo International Airport after fleeing from Ukraine.

Molefe thanked the Pakistani government and missionaries who helped him to flee through several countries, including Poland and Germany.

He said that not once was there any monetary assistance from the South African embassy.

Molefe told the media that he networked his way through various organisations and through this he met a Pakistani national who assisted him.

He slammed the South African government for not doing anything to assist its citizens abroad.

He applauded other African countries such as Nigeria, who flew its citizens out of Ukraine for their safety.

“For an ambassador to tell me that the government doesn’t have money, it is quite devastating. It is actually unfathomable. I just give thanks to the Lord for being alive,” Molefe said.

However, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said it had an operational evacuation plan for South Africans stuck in the war-torn region.

“We are trying to get people into neighbouring countries, where we do have representation. From there, they are coming to South Africa using the usual means of transport. That, in the main, is what we are doing,” said Lunga Ngqengelele, spokesperson for the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Naledi Pandor.

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