The family of a South African man is devastated by what they described as his mysterious disappearance in Mozambique – apparently for the second time.
However, authorities say André Hanekom was arrested – not kidnapped – and that he faces “a number of charges”.
In August, when Hanekom went missing for the first time, his family claimed that he had been kidnapped.
They eventually located him in a rural hospital in Mozambique. According to his daughter Amanda, Hanekom had been hospitalized for a few weeks before police arrested him.
She said police suspected him of “terrorism”.
“They said they saw someone looking like my dad walking in the bush but we had proof that at the time he was not even there,” Amanda said.
After her father had been locked up for almost a month and a half, police investigated and released him on bail, Amanda added.
However, on Wednesday, when his wife, Francis, was meant to pick him up, things took a drastic turn.
Amanda said when her mother arrived at the police station, she was told to wait.
“Then a car pulled up very urgently, a Mahindra double cab bakkie with a canopy on,” Amanda said. “The two guards that were accompanying my dad were in the car. When my mom looked in the car, she didn’t see my dad, but she doesn’t know if they let him lie down.”
She added that, shortly after the bakkie left, officials informed her mother that Hanekom had left in the bakkie and was taken to another station.
“When my mom tried looking for him, she was told that if she is going to continue looking for my dad, she would also be arrested.”
Amanda said the family was devastated with the disappearance of her father, especially the threat to arrest her mother.
“It is really not a nice thing to go through and I also have exams coming up. I must study. We don’t even know if they have been giving my dad food,” she said.
Francis said they had reached out to the South African Embassy for assistance.
They can only function via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which up to date have not even responded to their first enquiries in the beginning of August, she said.
She added that she heard that the embassy was trying to arrange a meeting with the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of justice in Mozambique.
“I am waiting to hear from them. We are in contact with the embassy but I don’t know how helpful they can be,” she said.
‘Arrested, not kidnapped’
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya told us on Monday that Hanekom had merely been rearrested and was facing “a number of charges” in Mozambique.
“We have been in contact with the family and with the [Mozambican] police. This is not an easy matter. But he was arrested – not kidnapped.
“The Mozambican police are keeping us informed. I will contact the mission again today [Monday] to find out where police are keeping him.”
Mabaya said it was a “complicated case” and that he would be in a position to provide more information once he had again made contact with Mozambican authorities