Tumelo Waga Dibakwane & Alex Rose-Innes
CLAYSON Monyela, spokesperson for the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), had expressed grave concern over the recent Isis attacks against foreign nationals in Palma in northern Mozambique.
By time of going to press, the conflict had left dozens dead while 60 people are believed to be still missing after a group of terrorists stormed into the town.
On Monday morning, the South African (SA) High Commission in Maputo released a statement saying the 43 South Africans affected by the recent attacks had either been found or rescued and are in an area, Afungi.
Meanwhile, DIRCO Minister, Naledi Pandor, had expressed her deepest condolences to the family of a South African man, Adrian Nel, who lost his life in the attack. His body had already been returned to his family.
Two men, who fled into the bush during attacks on the Amarula Hotel convoy which aimed to transport South Africans from the war zone to the airport, were located as well. A third young South African who hid away was found by search and rescue helicopters and according to Monyela, some of these people had already been safely returned to their families in SA.
Northern Mozambique had been plagued by bloody violence at the hands of Islam extremists since 2017. Fighting intensified last Friday after a group of suspected terrorists stormed into Palma, targeting shops, banks and a military camp, according to international media reports.
Monyela said DIRCO remained on high alert with a track-and-trace process to determine whether more South Africans had been affected. “The services provided by the High Commission include assisting SA citizens with emergency medical evacuation, obtaining emergency travel documentation and securing international flight transfers,” minister Pandor said.
While congratulating the SA High Commissioner’s offices in Mozambique on their prompt action to safeguard South Africans, she urged the ambassador and officials to continue to do all they could to provide assistance to SA citizens and any to citizen of Mozambique who may be in need of help.
Many South Africans, mostly contractors working on the construction of French Total’s liquid natural gas processing plant, were caught in the deadly insurgent attack. Hundreds of locals and foreigners were reportedly rescued from Palma, a logistics hub for international gas projects in the Cabo Delgado province.
“South Africa stands ready to work with the government of Mozambique in pursuit of lasting peace and stability,” Pandor said.