SA mom describe's husband's flight from Moz insurgents with body of dead son

Rebels seized control in the town of Palma, an economic hub in the troubled region of Cabo Delgado, after French oil and gas giant Total announced it would be resuming its 20 billion dollar project in the area. Insurgents seized control of the town, attacking shops, banks and villages.

The flag of Mozambique. Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - The mother of a South African man who was killed in a rebel attack in Mozambique has described to Eyewitness News how her husband and another son hid in the bushes overnight, terrified that they would be discovered by Islamic insurgents.

Meryl Knox’s son, Adrian Nel, was among those killed in an ambush at a hotel in the coastal town of Palma last week.

The family was part of an unknown number of expatriates who were caught up in the insurgent attack in the Cabo Delgado province.

READ: Dozens still unaccounted for in Mozambique following Islamist attacks

More South Africans are feared missing or dead after they tried to escape the attacks.

Rebels seized control in the town of Palma, an economic hub in the troubled region of Cabo Delgado, after French oil and gas giant Total announced it would be resuming its 20 billion dollar project in the area. Insurgents seized control of the town, attacking shops, banks and villages.

During the attack, KwaZulu-Natal resident Nel was killed on Friday.

His mother Knox said that her husband and their other son hid in the bushes with Adrian’s body until the following morning after the attack.

"This has been the absolute worst nightmare you can imagine. I hope that a lesson has been learned from this and that my son never died in vain."

Meanwhile, another South African family said that they were lucky to find their 21-year-old son, Francois van Niekerk, alive on Sunday after days of desperation for help.

ALSO READ: Safe & hungry - SA man (21) caught in Mozambique insurgent attack rescued

Van Niekerk’s mother, Sonia, had lost contact with him on Wednesday before rebels shot down cellphone towers.

"After five days of fears, tears, constant prayer and immense emotional stress, my son's name came up on the screen. It was my son and he spoke to me."

Meanwhile, the number of people injured and killed in the four-day assault still remains unclear.

EARLY WARNINGS

The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium said that regional leaders had allowed the situation in Mozambique to deteriorate in the last three years, resulting in many deaths and instability in the country.

An invasion by extremists has left several people dead and many others unaccounted for, including South Africans.

Security expert, Jasmine Opperman, said that the recent deadly attacks in Palma showed that Mozambican authorities were underprepared despite being given several warnings of the growing instability in the oil-rich province.

"There was early-warning intelligence available that allowed the Mozambican government, the international community and SADC three days to implement immediate countermeasures but nothing was done."

Opperman said that the Mozambican government had failed to proactively intervene even after numerous attempts by the SADC and the African Union.

"South Africa has been the most vocal in terms of demanding and requesting the Mozambican government to respond with directions on what can be done. When they provided lists, these were shopping lists for arms and weapons and ammunition."

While Opperman agreed that urgent intervention was needed, she said that Africa did not have the capacity.

Last week, hundreds of people fled the fighting, hiding in nearby forests, while about 200 others took refuge in the Amarula Palma Hotel.

Some tried to escape the hotel in a convoy of vehicles but were ambushed, with one South African shot and killed in the assault.

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