/ 23 January 2019

South African national dies in Mozambique prison, Dirco to investigate

In October
In October, Hanekom’s wife Francis petitioned the South African government and Mozambican police to work towards releasing her husband. (Facebook)

Andre Hanekom, the 62-year-old South African national who had been detained in a Mozambique prison since August last year, has died in custody.

Hanekom’s daughter Amanda confirmed his death in a Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon. “My dad died early this morning in mysterious circumstances in the hospital in Pemba,” she wrote.

Department of international relations and cooperation spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya says Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has instructed the high commissioner in Mozambique to “find out what happened” to Hanekom.

Mabaya told the Mail & Guardian that Hanekom had been admitted to a prison hospital on Friday afternoon. The cause of his hospitalisation is unknown.

Dirco did confirm that the high commissioner, Ambassador Mandisi Bongani Mabuto Mpahlwa, had visited Hanekom last week after his family had raised concerns over his health.

Hanekom was expected to appear before a court in Mozambique this month after he was accused of supporting and aiding terrorist activities in northern parts of the country.

AFP reported that Hanekom was formally arrested in August after being seized by military personnel from a restaurant in Pamla. Known as “baba mzungo” or “white father”, Hanekom was allegedly responsible for logistics in terror-related activities.

Hanekom’s family, however, says he was wrongfully arrested and was being framed.

Francis, Hanekom’s wife, told the media earlier in January that her husband was arrested because “influential people desired Andre’s property on the beach.”

His court case, Amanda said, was going to take place at the end of January.

“He would of won, we have mountains of proof of his innocence,” she wrote.

“My heart is so broken and hollow, my dad was our rock when anything was down, he gave us strength.”