Cape Town - A South African businessman who had been held in Equatorial Guinea’s notorious Black Beach prison since December despite being acquitted by a court, was released into the care of the South African embassy on February 21.
Daniel Janse van Rensburg of Port Elizabeth was evidently jailed because a business deal with a powerful local businessman went wrong.
He was accused by the businessman of stealing the down payment on the purchase of an airplane. Even though he was acquitted by a court, Janse Van Rensburg was snatched off an aircraft by security guards on December 18 as he tried to leave Malabo, the West African country’s capital on the island of Bioko.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation officials had called in Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador to South Africa, Francisco Edu Ngua Mangue, to express the government’s dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the way Janse van Rensburg had been treated, said department spokesman Nelson Kgwete.
Diplomats at the South African Embassy in Malabo had also complained to the ministries of foreign affairs and justice.
Kgwete said Janse van Rensburg had alleged that the businessman with whom he had fallen out had ordered his arrest on the aircraft after he had passed through immigration.
“We managed to get him out of jail and released into the care of our embassy… on condition that he doesn’t leave the country. We will continue to render him assistance and make representations on his behalf.”
Kgwete said he was unsure how events would proceed since Janse van Rensburg had already been acquitted by a court.
It is understood that the businessman is close to the country’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Kgwete said Janse van Rensburg’s family was being kept informed of developments.
Black Beach prison is the facility where South African Nick du Toit, Cape Town-based Briton Simon Mann and other mercenaries were held after attempting to overthrow Obiang in a coup launched from South African in March 2004.
They were all later released on humanitarian grounds.