André Hanekom to be remembered with 'celebration of life', not tears - wife

2019-02-08 13:29
André Hanekom and his wife, Francis.

André Hanekom and his wife, Francis. (Supplied)

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Family and friends of André Hanekom, 62, the South African man who died in custody in Mozambique on January 23, will host a "celebration of life" in his honour in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, on Saturday.

Speaking to News24 on Friday, his widow Francis said he was a positive person who had a passion for life, and that he will be celebrated and remembered that way.

"He lived by the motto 'Carpe diem' (seize the day), he relished in each opportunity that came his way, he never let a disappointment get him down. So we don't want to have a 'funeral', we will have a 'celebration of life' - André was not a morbid person."

The event will be held from 15:30 at the Bushveld Lodge in Kaapschehoop Road, Mbombela.

Hanekom died in a hospital in Pemba in Mozambique under what his family believes were suspicious circumstances.

Charged with terrorism

Hanekom, a business owner from Palma who had lived in Mozambique for 26 years, was first arrested in Palma in August last year in what initially appeared to be a kidnapping. Formal charges of terrorism were brought on December 31.

Along with others, he was named by Mozambican authorities as allegedly being part of a jihadist group operating in the region.

According to AFP, the group faced charges, including murder and crimes against the state.

READ: Mozambique 'won't disclose' André Hanekom's autopsy report - not even to family

Allegedly, Hanekom had been responsible for the logistics of the group and was shot while trying to resist arrest in August. Weapons were reportedly found at his home.

His wife repeatedly denied the allegations.

Following his death, and after much diplomatic and bureaucratic toing and froing, Francis obtained a permit to repatriate his remains and managed to cross into South Africa at around 16:30 on January 31. 

An independent forensic investigation into the cause of Hanekom's death is being conducted as his family believes he may have been poisoned. It was initially feared that Mozambican authorities would incinerate his remains to "destroy evidence", Hanekom's daughter Amanda told News24 at the time.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in January directed High Commissioner to Mozambique Mandisi Mpahlwa to engage with authorities there to establish the cause of Hanekom's death.

ALSO READ: 'Pay or we will kill him' - Wife of SA man who died in Mozambican custody received threats

On Friday, Francis said she was relieved to be surrounded by family and loved ones after what has been a solitary battle for her since his arrest. She was often left in the lurch as to his whereabouts and had to negotiate with and bribe officials on many occasions. 

"But he gave me that independence, he always allowed me to be myself. He never owned me, but always supported me. I wouldn't be able to cope as well as I am if it weren't for him," Francis said.

The 'A-team'

She refers to the couple's five children as the "A-team" – each of their names begin with an A: Annette, Andrie, Amanda, and the twins Arno and André.

"We're not crying about him, because he will always be a part of us. Nothing scared André – he always just picked up the pieces and got on with it. That is how we will remember him."

Francis said though the family did not belong to a church, they considered themselves Christian.

"When you live in the bush for as long as we have, you develop a different relationship with God."

Francis said her battle to seek justice for André was far from over. "After a few days I will return to Mozambique and finish what I started.

"For now, we will remember André in these beautiful Bushveld surroundings around a huge bonfire. That's what he would have liked." 

celebration of life

André Hanekom's 'celebration of life' invitation. (Supplied)

Read more on:    andré hanekom  |  mozambique  |  mbombela

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