He carried his dead son’s body, shot dead by jihadists in northern Mozambique, for hours, hidden in nature, before being finally rescued and evacuated.
Adrian Nel, 40, son of Gregory and Meryl, a South African couple, was shot dead in an ambush on Friday evening. Entrenched the day before in a hotel in Palma, he tried to escape the jihadists who took the coastal city at night. “My son died on a violent and unnecessary day,” cried his mother, contacted by AFP on the phone on Sunday.
Over the past four days, in this impoverished, predominantly Muslim region, fighting has raged. The surprise attack scale launched Wednesday afternoon, simultaneously at three locations in the city, suggests that Adrian is among the dozens of victims of a carefully prepared attack. He had arrived in Palma in January. He was building camps for workers on behalf of a South African company. After the announcement of the attack on Wednesday, he, his father, and his little brother took refuge at the Amarula hotel, between the city and the airport.
Nearly 200 other people are there, of all nationalities. They hope to be evacuated soon. For two hellish days and nights, they listen to the intense exchanges of fire. Adrian’sAdrian’s father manages to find a satellite phone to give the news. “He told me that arrangements were made for them to be evacuated,” said Wesley Nel. The latter runs an inn in the tourist region of Kwazulu Natal (North East). She is a little reassured.
“My son is dead.”
After 24 hours, the first helicopters arrive. But the rebels have already surrounded the hotel. Help must give up. Friday, the last contact with them. Wesley Nel receives a message from his youngest son telling him that they are about to be evacuated. This time, by a convoy of trucks. They were surprised when they were leaving. They shot, my son, died,” the mother said slowly. “There is nothing to describe how it feels.”
The three men were in the exact vehicle. The father and the youngest son manage to escape. The mother then does not have many details. All she knows is that her husband refused to leave Adrian’sAdrian’s body behind. And that they waited a long time. And then men from a private security company found them. They are now safe in Pemba, more than 200 km away. Wesley, the youngest, will return on the first flight to South Africa. Gregory, the father, will wait until he can bring his other son back. Adrian’sAdrian’s body is currently stored in a morgue in Pemba.