SA pair flee Renamo rebels

2013-11-07 08:36
Pietermaritzburg - A KwaZulu-Natal man on a fishing trip to Mozambique had to flee for his life from Renamo rebels.

Boyce Kluckow (36) of Nottingham Road and his friend Steve Adams (37) had to abandon their boats, cars, fishing and camping equipment to avoid confrontation with the rebel soldiers last week.

Kluckow and Adams, previously of Howick and now living in the UK, were to have ended their two-week trip at Nkala, a seaside town in Mozambique, when they got word of the insurgency.

They first attempted to exit south to Tete province with a military convoy, but were told by locals that the military convoy had been attacked twice in the last few days. They then attempted to leave through the Malawian border, but were turned back en route by police, who warned them that the rebels had attacked a Mozambican army patrol a few hours earlier.

They said that when they entered the country they were not given any warnings and progressed without incident to their destination. But they noticed that when they stopped at a village to ask for directions, the villagers who had seen them coming, scattered and hid, obviously thinking they were rebels.

Kluckow said, “Our next plan was to head south towards Nampula but it is 490 kilometres on dirt roads in the bush and we were not familiar with the territory, especially in a country where we don’t speak the language. We managed to find a Mozambican sales representative who gave us a lift to Nampula. He told us that [his company] had cancelled a massive sales conference because of the rebel attacks. We hitched a ride with him and we managed to get two seats on an Airlink flight to Johannesburg.” The pair arrived in Johannesburg on Friday.

Kluckow and Adams made arrangements with a local family at Nkala to safeguard the car and their luxury imported boat until they could retrieve it.

“We have thousands of rands stuck there and we just hope it will still be there when we get back.”

The South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela urged South Africans travelling to Mozambique to register with the Department of International Relations so that speedy assistance can be rendered in case of an emergency.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised against all but essential travel to Sofala province, with the exception of the provincial capital, Beira.

The government of Mozambique confirmed that a military operation, targeting the Renamo opposition party’s Santunjira base camp in Sofala province, took place two weeks ago and they are continuing to attack Renamo troops.

An official from the Mozambican embassy, who refused to give his name as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said:

“The situation remains tense and we are advising people to avoid travelling to Sofala or north, and if they travel to make use of the military convoys for their own protection.”

The conflicts are not isolated to Sofala province where the Renamo rebels have their base. Other clashes between government troops and Renamo troops have occurred in Nampula province and Manica province.

Local travel agents said people were still travelling to Mozambique despite the violence.

Ivan Marx of LazyWayz Travel said he had no cancellations although some clients were a bit nervous about continuing with their trip to Mozambique. He said the only other hiccup was the availability of chartered flights.

Theona Bell of Travel Finesse said her clientele had not been affected and she had not received any cancellations.

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