South African maritime businessman Andre Hanekom has died in Mozambique, his daughter Amanda Hanekom said on Wednesday.
"My dad died early this morning in mysterious circumstances in the hospital in Pemba. His court case was going to be next week and he would have won, we have mountains of proof of his innocence," she shared on Facebook.
"My heart is so broken and hollow, my dad was our rock when anything was down, he gave us strength."
Hanekom's wife, Francis, had been campaigning for his release since he was arrested in August, on what she said were trumped-up terrorism charges.
At the weekend, the South African government said its ambassador in Mozambique "has managed to locate Mr Hanekom and has communicated both with the family and ourselves where he’s being held".
Hanekom, who turned 62 on January 21, owned a slipway and maritime logistics company in the country’s gas-rich northern region of Cabo Delgado. He was arrested after gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms and balaclavas tried to drive him off the road. The men, one of whom shot him in the arm and stomach, turned out to be police officers.
The Sunday Times reported that Hanekom was briefly admitted to hospital. Officers initially claimed they were holding him for his own safety after rescuing him from kidnappers linked to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, a group that allegedly wants Cabo Delgado as a separatist state.
“However, in October he appeared in court, with authorities claiming Hanekom — fondly known as Baba Mzungu (white father) among locals — was linked to the organisation. They said they had confiscated weapons and logistical supplies from his home destined for the organisation,” the newspaper said