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Forty years ago to the day, on November 25 1981, 45 mostly SA and ex-Rhodesian mercenaries landed on the island of Mahé in the Seychelles to overthrow the island state’s government. The failed attempt can only be described as a chaotically planned and horrendously actioned fiasco.

To understand exactly why these men (and one woman) sought to oust president France-Albert René, you need to go back to mid-1970s SA. At the time, the apartheid government was running out of sanctions-busting runway, the civil war in Rhodesia was escalating and the Portuguese were evacuating rapidly from their colonies of Angola and Mozambique. SA was fast becoming internationally isolated...

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