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The death of the South African accused of organising armed attacks in Cabo Delgado may affect relations between Mozambique and South Africa, analysts say. And the autopsy was done on Thursday without the consent of the widow.
Following his unlawful detention by soldiers in Cabo Delgado and subsequent police detention, South African businessman Andre Hanekon has died in Pemba Provincial Hospital.
On January 19, he suffered from convulsions and was taken to the hospital, where he died four days later.
“When he first went to the hospital, the doctor’s first suspicion was that he had been poisoned,” his widow Francis Hanekon says.
The Public Prosecutor accused Andre Hanekon of being the financier and coordinator of the armed attacks against villages in Cabo Delgado. According to the authorities, his aim was “to create instability to prevent the exploitation of natural gas in the province”, accusations his wife strongly denies.
Francis Hanekon points out that at the time of his arrest in October 2018, Andre Hanekon had no health problems. “Nothing, nothing, nothing … He did not take any medication at all. [He was in good health], he worked every day. He would get malaria from time to time, but otherwise he had no problems, he had no diabetes, nothing. “
Autopsy without widow’s permission
The authorities performed an autopsy on Thursday, again without the widow’s consent. “I heard that Pemba Hospital had performed an autopsy without my permission. The government did the autopsy without me having signed permission to do so,” the deceased’s widow reported.
Hanekom’s death comes after the South African authorities requested clarification. The case was one of the central themes of the visit of the South African president to Mozambique on January 14.
Cyril Ramaphosa and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi stressed the need to wait for justice to follow its normal course and to allow the competent institutions to carry out their duties under the separation of powers.
South Africa – Mozambique relations affected
Will Hanekon’s death affect relations between Mozambique and South Africa?
“I think it’s a very big setback,” Silvestre Baessa, a specialist in good governance, says. “When an individual is accused of being the promoter of an act of violence against a state, dies in the hands of the authorities of that country, it is a very big setback. “
“It is the duty of the Mozambican state to ensure a person’s physical safety, even if he is a foreign citizen being investigated for crimes committed in that country. Looking at [Hanekom’s] age and length of time he was in the prison, the authorities should have taken additional measures of protection. Yes, this ends up affecting relations between the two states.”
“I believe that especially for South Africa because of the involvement of the South African government in trying to understand the connection of a citizen of theirs who lived in Mozambique for more than 25 years and who had a clean record until then, it hurts these relationships, to a debatable extent.”
The Public Prosecutor’s Office alleges that guns, gunpowder, and bows and arrows found at Andre Hanekon’s house proves his involvement in the armed incursions.
For Baessa, the Hanekon case reflects the challenge that the Mozambican authorities face regarding parties supposedly involved in the attacks in Cabo Delgado, recalling that previous trials surrounding the attacks have shown poor evidence quality.
Mozambican authorities in delicate situation
How are the authorities responding to Hanekon’s death? “The fact that the evidence presented is extremely poor, of being in an unlawful situation where all other rights have been violated in terms of what the rules of law are in relation to this, and then dying in police custody. These three elements put the Mozambican authorities in a very fragile situation,” Baessa replies.
“There is not much trust in institutions or the security system protecting prisoners, assuming Hanekom was one, because he was arrested in a semi-war context. This places the country in a much more complicated situation.”
Attacks by gunmen not so far satisfactorily identified began in northern Cabo Delgado in October 2017, and have already killed about 200 people, with considerable material as well. The presence of defence and security forces in the region has not deterred the attacks.Source: DW