André Hanekom's family wants second autopsy after suspicious death
The family of maritime businessman André Hanekom, who was arrested on terrorism charges in Mozambique and died under suspicious circumstances, wants a second autopsy done by a forensic team from SA.
"We need a second opinion from our side and would like to ask a private independent forensic pathologist to be part of the team," widow Francis Hanekom wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
"A quick autopsy was done, without informing me, obtaining my consent or having me present at the procedure. How would we know if the results will be honest or the body [is] not being deliberately contaminated?"
Francis claimed that the Mozambican government wanted to change the cause of death on André's death certificate from encephalopathy and hypoxia to meningoencephalitis "of viral or bacterial origin".
Francis is a former ICU nurse. She saw André the day before he died.
"He did not present like a patient with meningoencephalitis on the brink of death. I know what it looks like, and have seen it before."
According to HeathLine.com, encephalopathy is a general term describing a disease that affects the function or structure of the brain (which can be caused by trauma). Hypoxia is a condition leading to insufficient oxygen reaching cells and tissues in the body. Meningoencephalitis is inflammation of the brain caused usually by an infection.
Francis had been campaigning for André to be released since his arrest in August on what she said were trumped-up terrorism charges.
Hanekom, 62, 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.
But when he appeared in court in October, authorities claimed André was linked to the organisation. They said they had confiscated weapons and logistical supplies from his home destined for the organisation.
Francis told TimesLIVE on Wednesday that André was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Pemba on January 19. She alleged that he had shown signs of poisoning.
"He was recovering but he could not speak. Yesterday (Tuesday) he was fully conscious. He helped them (the staff) move him in his bed and 4.30 this morning he was dead."
Francis said they had documents needed by the SA government to repatriate the body "except for the 'statement of non-infectious diseases'."
"Due to the 'new' diagnosis, the Mozambique legal medicine department does not want to issue such a certificate," Francis wrote.
"The SA government has the power to allow André to enter under quarantine conditions to the closest town, for the sake of justice and certainty. If we want the truth, all evidence must be valued and opportunities used to collect information."