PRETORIA, South Africa — An international gang of counterfeiters, smugglers and financiers has provided money--including fake $100 bills--to rebels in Mozambique, South African Foreign Minister Roelof F. (Pik) Botha said Saturday.
Botha said police rounded up the counterfeiters and confiscated large amounts of counterfeit U.S. $100 bills and South African 50-rand bills. He said two suspects fled to Europe, but the rest will face charges in South Africa.
The foreign minister said the money was used in deals involving smuggled arms, ivory, diamonds, emeralds and prawns. He said the counterfeiters were in league with smugglers and international financiers to finance the rightist rebels against Mozambique's Marxist government.
Botha said the group included businessmen "with large political and economic interests in Africa, Latin America and Europe." He did not identify them or spell out how the businessmen, counterfeiters and smugglers were linked.
A spokesman for the rebel group Mozambican National Resistance--better known as RENAMO--dismissed the allegations.
"The South African foreign minister once again tries an invention to discredit the real nationalistic movement, which RENAMO is," said rebel spokesman Jorge Correia, reached by telephone in Lisbon.
Anniversary of Pact
Botha announced the arrests at a news conference on the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Nkomati that pledged friendship and cooperation between South Africa and Mozambique. In the accord, the presidents of each country agreed to stop his country from being used as a base for guerrilla attacks in the other.
Mozambique has ousted the anti-Pretoria African National Congress, but RENAMO guerrillas have tightened their grip on Mozambique and sharply increased their attacks on towns and government installations.
Before the treaty with Mozambique, South Africa had been considered the rebels' chief supporter. Mozambique has charged that "elements in South Africa" continue to provide the rebels with arms and supplies.
President Samora Machel said recently the Pretoria government appears "unwilling or unable" to prevent RENAMO rebels from using South Africa as a base for their attacks.
However, Botha said Saturday that South Africa is "doing absolutely everything in its power" to abide by the Nkomati treaty.