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Naledi Pandor heads for Equatorial Guinea to seek release of jailed SA engineers

Naledi Pandor heads for Equatorial Guinea to seek release of jailed SA engineers
Jailed South African engineers Frederik Potgieter (left) and Peter Huxham. (Photos: Facebook)

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor will travel to Equatorial Guinea this weekend to try to secure the release of South African engineers Frederik Potgieter and Peter Huxham.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor will travel to Equatorial Guinea this weekend to try to persuade that country’s government to release the two South African oil engineers who have been detained there for nearly 15 months on apparently trumped-up charges.

Clayson Monyela, the spokesperson for Pandor’s department, confirmed to Daily Maverick that securing the release of Frederik (Frik) Potgieter and Peter Huxham would be the purpose of Pandor’s visit to the Central African state.

“The families are desperate for news on Frik and Peter and for their urgent release,” Francois Nigrini, a spokesperson for their families said on Wednesday night.

“It’s been over 14 months since they were illegally arrested and incarcerated in Equatorial Guinea. They are innocent and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. We hope that Minister Pandor’s visit can secure their release and we are deeply grateful for all efforts to bring them home.”

The two men were arrested on 9 February 2023 and charged with drug trafficking. However, their families suspect the real reason was that two days before their arrest, South Africa had seized two luxury houses and a superyacht in Cape Town belonging to Equatorial Guinea’s extremely wealthy vice-president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Anguished families believe ICJ case shows SA has power to get two engineers released from Equatorial Guinea

The seizure related to another case and had nothing to do with Potgieter and Huxham, which is why their families say they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Frik and Peter are both highly experienced and professional engineers who were working for the Dutch company SBM Offshore in Equatorial Guinea at the time of their arrests,” Shaun Murphy, a spokesperson for the Potgieter family, said in February this year.

“Frik and Peter are hostages being held by a foreign power. These two men are in the situation that they are in because of an international dispute between South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.”

The two men were arrested at their hotel in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the night before they were due to fly back to South Africa following a five-week work rotation.

At their trial in June 2023 they each received a 12-year sentence, a main fine of $5-million and additional fines to be shared between them, “for trumped-up drug offences”, Murphy said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Families of SA engineers ‘wrongfully’ jailed in Equatorial Guinea urge Pretoria to get them home for Christmas

“The sentence and fines are much higher than what the current Equatorial Guinea law allows. Their trial, marked by numerous irregularities, took place in June 2023.

“The sentence and fines were based on outdated penalties for the alleged crimes, indicating an unsettling departure from the country’s new Criminal Code. 

“No witnesses or expert opinions were presented to the court by the prosecutor, nor was any proof presented that the alleged drugs were found on the two men, and further, the nature of the alleged drugs was not tested, or conclusively proven.” DM

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  • jcdville stormers says:

    Hope they get free,but so short before the eletions ,suddenly Mrs Pandor goes ?

    • Vic Mash says:

      The minister should concentrate on the Palestinians and leave this mercenaries were were they are

    • Jay Vyas says:

      Great observation – Typical Opportunist Pandor, must have been instructed by her Opportunist Boss, The Serial Rama Phala Phala Sofa to “ create more good stories to tell about the ANC”.

      A further, more Pertinent Question that Naledi needs to answer is :
      ‘What happened to the Repossessed Super Yacht, and the Two Luxury Houses?’
      Has the ANC Party Cadres made good use of those Assets, or will the Liquidation of the same assets get Returned to the AFU and State Coffers?

      Finally, I do hope that Naledi will not use the Released Return to OR Tambo as an ANC Grandstanding Ploy, or coerce the Press for such propganda!

      I Rest My Case!

      • Gavin Hillyard says:

        If she can get them home more power to her hand I say.

      • Tumelo Tumelo says:

        The two irksome elements about the commentary pages on DM are ‘whataboutism’ and the klippies gossip that permeate on these pages. The unsophisticated and at times racist troupes disguised as unsophisticated chatter is actually tiring to read. Please engage and comprehend the article which you are commenting on. Stop this vileness.

        • Greeff Kotzé says:

          A fair observation. There seems to be an slowly increasing number of these comments.

          Their tone Seeps with Hysteria!
          They Are arbitrarily-Capitalised!
          They’ll use Any Opportunity to Make someone’s Name into A Pun!
          Even The hyperbole has Hyperbole!

          It’s all rather juvenile. I support freedom of speech, of course, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I can still wish that the writings to support those opinions were of better quality (even if the opinion itself is fated to be of the bargain-bin variety).

  • Brian Cotter says:

    Clicking back from November 23 article – “The reason we need our government to intervene is because this is an entirely political matter, which can only be solved through a political solution.”
    Pandor has been tied up with making a name for herself in Israeli / Palestine / Iran conflict so no chance of action because the spotlight was there. The election is the new spotlight so Cyril needs success stories. That is all. They were forgotten and white. Did I not read Paul Mashatile was in Dubai and the Guptas name cropped up. Same election campaign.

  • Nick Griffon says:

    Why does it take her 14 months to do anything???

  • Lynda Tyrer says:

    2023 and Dirco has done nothing in all this time and now Pandor the last person in this country who should go decides to do something.

    • Vic Mash says:

      Why must the Minister use public money to negotiate the release of colonisers/mercenaries? we need to deal with the issue of apartheid Israel

  • Trevor Gray says:

    What chance does she have of effecting the release of these victims? Overrule a court? Compensate the aggressor with state money? Sanctions? Withdrawal of Our troops in peace-keeping missions? Approach the International Court of justice?
    Other African countries already use similar tactics to settle personal scores.
    Truly a rock and a hard place. One can only commiserate with the families of the innocent victims!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Finally the monolith stirs from her self-induced slumber and does something useful for the benefit of the country instead of being cozy and one with the world’s most vile and evil murderers and human rights abusers. No doubt it is election time and the despicable anc needs to show us that they are to serve the country.

  • So they were there to steal the oil?
    Hardly innocent

    • Vic Mash says:

      Yes, they are also mercenaries

      • jcdville stormers says:

        Dont change the narrative to suit your agenda

      • David Peddle says:

        Steal oil that is in the sea which costs possibly as much as 20Bn$ to find and get to start exploiting? These big oil companies have years of negotiating deals with corrupt and venal governments like eg Angola and Venezuela to name a few, but then you could google a lot more for yourself but clearly your ‘principles’ will deter you from that defining step, so just go away and allow adults to discuss matters you barely comprehend!

  • Leon Prinsloo says:

    We should protect our citizens even if it means we do so by force this is the standard for many countries. If they refuse to engage in diplomacy we need to show them that our nation is not a weak target. We must make it clear that the illegal incarceration of our citizens will not serve as a political bargaining tool.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Great! The pro Putin, pro Hamas, pro Palestine, anti semitic, Ramaphosa acolyte Naledi Pandor has suddenly realised that there are South Africans who have needed help for 15 months which she semi-ignored. Oh, I forgot, there are elections coming up so let’s make our ANC party look as if it also supports its own citizens and not just dictators, foreign invaders of peaceful neighbours, and terrorist groups.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Do not do that to yourself, she was approached by the families and she is doing her job rescuing those engineers, give credit where it is due.
      Hate can be so blinding.

  • A Rosebank Ratepayer says:

    Damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t! … sigh …

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Yes, that seems to be the case. Most of the comments here ignore the reality that for the Foreign Minister to go in person, is somewhat of a last resort for any country dealing with such an issue. I’m fairly sure that there has been a whole lot of bilateral engagement between the foreign relations departments of the two countries leading up to this. Some things still (kinda) work, people!

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Send them back, Equ Guinea can keep Ms Pandor as a fair trade.

    • Vic Mash says:

      We dont want them back here, they went there to kill Africans for their minerals just like the afrikaners and brits did in Mzansi

    • Noel Soyizwaphi says:

      I wish the minister success in this and many other endeavors. If she fails, its just a day in the office. God bless South Africa, our country.

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    Happy for the engineers, but opportunistic electioneering from the ANC! I hope the minority they are aiming to impress see through it!!!

  • Fabian Jordaan says:

    I feel for these guys … being an expat worker in Africa myself …

    I also remember the previous case where South Africa expropriated the yacht and property of Equitorial Guinea’s vice president’s son for that man imprisoning another South African contractor working there through no fault of the south African contractor but purely because the vice president’s son has that power …

    The government should issue warnings where south african workers are at risk and will be exploited due to politicians

    These guys will now be released if South Africa pays the vice presidents son for his yacht and property that was auctioned off …

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    What we have here in RSA, for a justice system, is far from being perfect but I will take it any day compared to what some countries have.

    How does a judge gives a guilty verdict in such a very weak/non-existent case!!?

  • Jack Russell says:

    Amazing how a coming election will get even the rotten and incompetent to make a tentative, and reluctant, move towards decency if it could produce a few votes for them?

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    I’m sure everything here is above board. We trust everything the Honorable Pandor undertakes. There can be no hidden agenda. Please people!

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