"You need to compete against other companies that are going to third-country nationals," says Doug Brooks, president of the Washington-based International Peace Operations Association, an industry organization for private security companies. "And you're giving a Namibian 100 times his national salary."
But Nangolo and other human rights activists believe this new trend is exploitative as well as destabilizing in a region that is trying to move beyond its violent past.
"I told them [Namibia's former fighters], 'You are being sold,' " Nangolo says. " 'This is a type of human trafficking because of the socioeconomic condition you are in.' "
The Namibian government seemed to agree with Nangolo, who filed a legal protest saying SOC-SMG was violating Namibian laws against mercenary activity. On Oct. 12, the Namibian government expelled from the country two top SOC-SMG officials, and ordered the company to shut down all of its Namibian business operations.
"The involvement of Namibian nationals in such armed conflicts has serious short- and long-term national security implications on the interests of Namibia at home and abroad," information minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said at the time.
SOC-SMG did not return phone calls asking for comment, although local newspapers reported that the government had originally given the company permission to set up a branch in Windhoek, the capital.