SANDF still assisting with evacuation of South Africans from Mozambique, says Ramaphosa

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Families wait outside the port of Pemba on 1 April 2021, for the boat of evacuees from the coasts of Palma, Mozambique.
Families wait outside the port of Pemba on 1 April 2021, for the boat of evacuees from the coasts of Palma, Mozambique.
Alfredo Zuniga / AFP
  • The SANDF says it is working to secure the safety of South Africans caught up in attacks in the north of Mozambique.  
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa says there are concerns about the safety of citizens in Pemba and Palma. 
  • He told journalists on the sidelines of a church service to honour Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that the SANDF was "actively involved" with the safety of South Africans there. 

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is working to secure the safety of South Africans caught up in attacks in northern Mozambique, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

"We are have already attended to the issue of evacuating those South Africans who are stranded in Mozambique," he said.

"The South African National Defence Force has brought them back," said Ramaphosa, the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF.

"They remain involved with securing the safety of our people in Mozambique in Pemba and [in] Palma," he said in a feed to Newzroom Afrika and eNCA.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a church service to honour Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

READ | Survivors from Mozambique attack stream into Pemba safe haven

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on 31 March that the attacks by non-state armed troops since 24 March had triggered a massive displacement of people in parts of the country neighbouring South Africa.

The International Organisation for Migration has already registered approximately 8 000 people at arrival points in Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba districts, with thousands more arriving in Pemba and Cabo Delgado.

"The UN has information that hundreds of people are still trying to leave Palma right now and thousands are making their way by foot, boat and road, and some are being rescued by the UN Humanitarian Air Services and other groups of civil society," it said in a statement. 

"A full-scale humanitarian response will be needed to address the most immediate needs of people fleeing."

The UN Population Fund is pre-positioning birthing kits and essential drugs to support displaced pregnant women and new mothers.

News24 reported on Tuesday that a further six South Africans had been successfully evacuated from Mozambique. 

The evacuees were accompanied by the repatriation of the remains of Adrian Nel, who was killed in an attack.

READ | Timothy Walker | Mozambique attacks: The region cannot remain 'seablind'

News24 previously reported that 43 South Africans were trapped during the attack.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said on Tuesday that the South African Air Force had carried out the evacuations, flying from Mozambique to KwaZulu-Natal and then to Gauteng.  

"The South African High Commission in Maputo remains seized with the situation in northern Mozambique and will continue to render consular services to any more distressed South Africans needing assistance," Dirco said at the time. 

AFP reported that Nel, his younger brother and his father had been in the coastal town since January. 

He was contracted to build worker accommodation camps in the town, which is a gas hub in the Cabo Delgado province.

Nel's mother, Meryl Knox, told AFP that after a number of gun-wielding insurgents attacked the town, the family had hid in the hotel for two days. 

They were ambushed as they tried to evacuate from the hotel, where food had started running low.

Nel's body was kept at a morgue in Pemba, the provincial capital, to where many survivors were evacuated. 

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