Fate of SA logistics operator in Mozambique uncertain

Francis Hanekom with her husband, Andre, who remains in custody in Mozambique.

The fate of a South African citizen and owner of logistics company, Palma Marine, remains unclear after 61-year-old Andre Hanekom was shot and jailed following suspicions of involvement with a terror organisation operating along the equatorial east coast of Africa.

According to weekend reports Hanekom was granted bail in October last year but remains in custody in the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado where he operates a port-access company in Palma, one of that country’s northern-most coastal cities.

Despite being granted bail, Hanekom has been languishing in jail and was said to be awaiting another court appearance within days.

In the meantime the SA department of international relations and cooperation, Dirco, has no official position on the fate of Hanekom, saying only that they are monitoring court proceedings on the matter.

Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya is still on leave and is not taking any calls.

Attempts to get comment from a deputy spokesperson also failed as no one at Dirco knew who was supposed to field media queries in the event of his absence.

Details around Hanekom’s shooting last August, when he was shot in the arm and stomach, are very murky and Mozambican authorities have stated that they rescued him from an attempted abduction by Islamic militant group, Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama.

It remains to be seen, however, why Hanekom was subsequently jailed, particularly as accusations of his alleged involvement with the terror group appear to be untrue.

Security analysts all agree it is highly unlikely that the businessman has become embroiled in destabilising activities, particularly considering that he runs the best deep-access slipway in a port city that is the closest to Mozambique’s offshore liquid natural gas (LNG) fields.

According to his wife, Francis, Hanekom’s previous business partners have been trying to force him to sell his property in a deal possibly worth millions of dollars.

She said the structure which he built himself since settling in Palma 26 years ago was the longest and most secure slipway offering access to the deep water port and had caught the attention of multinationals vying for Mozambique’s vast LNG deposits.

The date of his next court appearance is yet to be revealed.

- Eugene Goddard

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