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KZN mother describes ‘nightmare’ as son is killed in Mozambique

Adrian Nel was killed in an attack in Mozambique. Picture: Facebook

Adrian Nel was killed in an attack in Mozambique. Picture: Facebook

Published Mar 29, 2021


DURBAN - A ZINKWAZI mother is living her worst nightmare as she mourns the loss of her son, who was killed in the attack in Palma, Mozambique, on Friday.

Meryl Knox told The Mercury that her son, Adrian Nel, would have turned 41 on April 1, but instead of a celebration, she was awaiting the return of his body.

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Her nightmare began on Wednesday when a friend called to find out whether her husband, Greg, was okay as he had heard of the trouble in Palma.

Knox said she was beside herself as not only was her husband working on a major construction project in Palma, but both her sons were too.

She said she tried frantically to get information. She managed to get on to a WhatsApp group in Mozambique where she got limited information and finally got a call from her husband that night to say they were safe with other expatriates at the Amarula Hotel.

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“It’s truly been a nightmare that nobody wants to go through. We were in communication with Wesley, my younger son, and last got a message from him at 9am on Friday. ‘We still waiting to be evacuated and not too sure what’s going to happen’ (the message read).”

From the WhatsApp group, Knox said she saw that the group of expats were instructed to make up a convoy and to make a run for it out of the hotel. Only women and children had been evacuated on Thursday, but the evacuations stopped when the attack got heavier.

It was late on Friday afternoon that Knox’s husband and two sons, in a convoy of expatriates, tried to escape. However, insurgents, believed to be Islamist militants, ambushed them, killing Adrian.

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The mother said there would never be justice for her son and there was no excuse or reason for his death.

“My son lost his life in a very violent and horrific way and it could have been avoided. I am very angry that my son is dead, and it’s so unnecessary they were let down by everybody besides the Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), private security guys who risked their lives to try to do something to save them. I am grateful because, if it wasn’t for them, I would not have any of my family alive.”

Knox added: “They have to curb this problem as it is ongoing. Mozambique has had these issues since 2017. There were 100 insurgents, the army was supposed to protect people working there, that is their job.”

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Knox said Adrian lived in Glenwood with his “lovely” wife and three children, aged 10, 7 and 3.

She said Adrian was an offshore diver who had worked in facility maintenance in the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) before the lockdown. As he was not able to continue working in Congo, he returned to South Africa and went to help his father and brother in the construction in Mozambique in January this year.

“He was a beautiful son with an adventurous spirit. He loved the sea and enjoyed fishing and body-boarding and enjoyed all beach activities with his children.

“He was an excellent hands-on father who adored his kids,” Knox said.

The South African government on Saturday expressed concern over the attacks on foreign nationals in Palma.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the government, through its Mission in Maputo, was working with the local authorities and providing the necessary consular services.

Monyela said South Africa was ready to work with the Mozambican government to pursue peace and stability.