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The wife of a Wilderness aviation consultant who has been locked up in an Equatorial Guinea jail for the past six weeks prays each day she will be reunited with her spouse of 24 years.
Melanie Janse van Rensburg, 46, of Hoekwil in the Wilderness, has not spoken to her husband, Daniel, since December 17, when he was arrested on a plane home to South Africa.
Daniel, 46, had been jailed twice in the three months before the latest arrest, after a business deal with a senator, Gabriel Mba Bela Angabi, turned sour.
For the past six weeks he has been held at the notorious Black Beach prison in Malabo, the same jail where British mercenary Simon Mann was held after allegedly plotting a coup against Equatorial Guinea.
“I have not heard from him since December 17, and I am so worried. He has written letters, but I can only make out a few things. I know he is in prison with a murderer and a drug dealer,” Janse Van Rensburg said.
She said when she had last spoken to him via Skype he had told her he was having nightmares about the holding cells. “My daughter and I have Googled Black Beach prison, and read that the inmates do not have access to food and water. The temperature is also 40 degrees outside, so you can imagine the heat inside the cells.”
The couple’s two children are students at Stellenbosch University.
Daniel had been working on a plane rental operation with Angabi since 2012, but the latter accused him of wanting to steal money when Daniel requested permission to work on another deal in Cameroon for a week.
“For the past year and a half, the money has been coming in in dribs and drabs. There is a big problem with money laundering in Equatorial Guinea, and so this is carefully monitored. The deal was always stalled by things like Angabi not having a licence to hire a plane,” Janse van Rensburg said on Monday.
She said that in September Daniel had flown to the country to finally guarantee the deal.
“Everything was fine for about three weeks. Then Angabi said he was going with his assistant to Dubai. Daniel requested permission to go to Cameroon, and Angabi said it was fine, but he would hold on to his passport. Then suddenly Daniel was arrested and charged with theft. The police said Angabi claimed he was going to steal his money.”
Although Daniel was released 24 hours later, he was again arrested and detained at the end of October.
“A judge told him that he should get a local lawyer and get his contracts in order, which he did. The case was thrown out of court and the judge assured him his no-flight status would be repealed.
“But Angabi made sure he could not leave the country. Daniel waited for papers, eventually staying at the South African embassy while he waited. After two weeks he received the papers to say he could fly, but the police stormed the plane and arrested him.”
A spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Clayson Monyela, said the government was liaising with Equatorial Guinea authorities on Daniel’s imprisonment.
GARDEN ROUTE MEDIA