During the Congo Crisis Mike Hoare organised and led two separate mercenary groups:
* 1960–1961. Major Mike Hoare’s first mercenary action was in Katanga, a province trying to break away from the newly independent Congo. The unit was called “4 Commando”. During this time he married Phyllis Simms, an airline stewardess.
* 1964. Congolese Prime Minister Moïse Tshombe hired “Colonel” Mike Hoare to lead a military unit called “5 Commando (Congo)” made up of about 300 men most of whom were from South Africa. His second in command was a young South African paratrooper Capt. GD Snygans. The unit’s mission was to fight a breakaway rebel group called Simbas. Later Hoare and his mercenaries worked in concert with Belgian paratroopers, Cuban exile pilots, and CIA hired mercenaries who attempted to save 1,600 civilians (mostly Europeans and missionaries) in Stanleyville from the Simba rebels in Operation Dragon Rouge. This operation saved many lives.
The epithet “Mad” Mike Hoare comes from broadcasts by Communist East German radio during the fighting in the Congo in the Sixties. They would precede their commentary with “The mad bloodhound, Mike Hoare”.
1982: Seychelles Coup
1982: Seychelles coup leader guilty of hijack Mercenary leader “Colonel Mad Mike” Hoare has been found guilty of hijacking a plane to escape from an aborted coup attempt in the Seychelles.
He and six other men were found guilty of unlawfully seizing a plane, interfering with the safety of its passengers and disrupting procedures at Durban Airport, South Africa.
After a four-and a-half month trial at Natal Supreme Court in Pietermaritzburg, they face sentences of 10 to 15 years each although the charges could attract terms of up to 30 years.
Hoare, an Irish-born soldier – famous for his exploits in the Congo in the 1960s – led a group of 50 men to take over the archipelago in the Indian Ocean last November.
Justice Neville James told the court Hoare, 63, was “an unscrupulous man with a highly cavalier attitude to the truth”.
Hoare – who achieved the rank of captain during World War II and has since lived in South Africa – conducted his own defence towards the end of the trial.
Mad Mike’s accomplices
Another 34 mercenaries who fled the independent, socialist island-state were found guilty of one charge – endangering the plane and passengers.
Five men involved in the coup were detained in the Seychelles. One of them has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and the others have been condemned to death.
Two others who had been on board escaped charges because they turned gave evidence for the prosecution.
But the judge said there was no evidence to support Hoare’s claims that the South African Government was involved in the coup.
Customs officials at the airport of Mahe – the main island – uncovered the operation when they noticed guns and ammunition concealed in luggage owned by the mercenaries posing variously as tourists, a touring rugby team and members of a beer-drinking group.
In the subsequent gun battle the men took over the airport for a couple of hours and seized a packed Air India jet liner to take them back to South Africa.
Mad Mike Hoare was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment two days later.
The other mercenaries received sentences of between six months and two-and-a-half years.
On the same day South African Prime Minister P W Botha implicated the country’s National Intelligence Service in the coup.
He said action would be taken against the officers involved.
A three nation Commission of Inquiry was set up by the UN Security Council to investigate the coup.
The UN report concluded South African defence agencies had been involved in the attempted takeover, including supplying weapons and ammunition.
Works by Mike Hoare
Congo Mercenary, London: Hale (1967), ISBN 0-7090-4375-9; Boulder, CO: Paladin Press (reissue 2008, with new foreword), ISBN 978-1-58160-639-3
Congo Warriors, London: Hale (1991), ISBN 0-7090-4369-4
The Road to Kalamata : a Congo mercenary’s personal memoir, Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books (1989), ISBN 0-669-20716-0; Boulder, CO: Paladin Press (reissue 2008, with new foreword), ISBN 978-1-58160-641-6
The Seychelles Affair, Bantam, ISBN 0-593-01122-8
Three Years with Sylvia, London: Hale, ISBN 0-7091-6194-8
Mokoro — A Cry For Help! Durban North: Partners In Publishing (2007), ISBN 978-0-620-39365-2
Mike Hoare′s Adventures in Africa Boulder, CO: Paladin Press (2010), ISBN 978-1-58160-732-1