Widow seeks new autopsy for S.African ‘jihadist’ who died in Mozambique
The widow of a South African accused of jihadism who died in detention in Mozambique asked Monday for an independent autopsy, casting doubt on the conclusions of a post-mortem by Mozambican doctors.
he widow of a South African accused of jihadism who died in detention in Mozambique asked Monday for an independent autopsy, casting doubt on the conclusions of a post-mortem by Mozambican doctors.
Andre Hanekom, 61, died last week in a hospital in the northern town of Palma where he was admitted on January 19 after having convulsions and bleeding under the skin, according to his wife Francis.
He had been transferred to the hospital from a prison where he was being held on suspicion of belonging to a jihadist group operating in the gas-rich north of the country since 2017.
Prosecutors named Hanekom, who ran a maritime business in Palma, as one of the leaders of the group alongside two Tanzanian nationals and two locals.
hey accused him of managing the group’s logistics among other charges, rubbished by his wife as “nonsense”.
Jihadist fighters have terrorised remote communities in the Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region, staging brazen gun and knife attacks on civilians leaving more than 100 killed and thousands fleeing their homes.
Hanekom’s widow said on Facebook that the Mozambican authorities “want to change the cause of death on the death certificate (from) encephalopathy and hypoxia (to) meningo-encephalitis of viral or bacterial origin.”
Since both are contagious they argue that the remains must be cremated before they can be repatriated to South Africa, said Francis Hanekom, who is a registered nurse.
“We need a second opinion,” she said.
he widow said that when she visited Hanekom in hospital the day before he died, “he did not present like a patient with meningo-encephalitis on the brink of death. I know what it looks like, and have seen it before.”
Speaking to AFP, she said: “The first doctor who admitted Andre said that it looks like poisoning. And I had a threat against Andre’s life. So I have valid reason to suspect that there is something going on, and if there is, they will want to hide it.”
“Which version is true?” she asked.
Francis Hanekom is demanding an independent autopsy in South Africa, asking the government to authorise the repatriation of her husband’s remains even if he died of an infectious disease.
“The South African government has the power to allow Andre to enter under quarantine conditions to the closest town, for the sake of justice and certainty,” she said.
he South African foreign ministry told AFP that its embassy in Mozambique was handling the request.
he hospital in Palma could not be reached Monday for confirmation of the initial autopsy results.
According to the charge sheet, all of the suspects, except Hanekom, had confessed to their involvement in the armed group “to create instability and prevent the exploitation of natural gas in Palma”.