The first South African has been killed in North-eastern Nigeria, where he was participating in the fight against Boko Haram. Leon Lotz, an apartheid-era Defence Force Koevoet operative, was reportedly killed in a friendly fire incident when a Nigerian tank destroyed the wrong target.
According to sources in Nigeria, Leon Lotz, a private security contractor, died on March 9 when a Nigerian tank opened fire on his convoy. The incident occurred in Nigeria’s Borno State, in the North-east of the country, near Boko Haram territory.
Lotz was reportedly from KwaZulu-Natal, and was involved in the support and maintenance of vehicles used by the Nigerian Army in their ongoing offensive against Boko Haram.
There is a significant, albeit controversial, South African presence in North-eastern Nigeria. The Nigerian Army is working with private security companies which employ South Africans, ostensibly to train troops in counter-terrorist activities.
In January, the media reported that former SADF soldiers formed the core of a multinational team of private military experts that were en route to Nigeria.
Communication between these private security contractors and the Nigerian Army is thought to be very poor, which perhaps explains the confusion leading to Lotz’s death.