13 July 2023
DIRCO expresses serious concern over incarceration of two South African nationals in Equatorial Guinea
The Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Mr Zane Dangor, was disturbed to learn of the sentence handed down to two South African nationals, namely Mr Peter Shane Huxham and Mr Frederic Johannes Potgieter, in Equatorial Guinea. He expressed support to the families and friends of the detainees.
The two nationals were arrested on Thursday, 09 February 2023, at their hotel in Malabo while preparing to board their scheduled flight on 10 February 2023 to South Africa. They are employed on an oil rig off the coast of Equatorial Guinea and were coming off shift to rest and spend time with their families in South Africa.
They made their first court appearance only on Monday, 26 June 2023, to receive the formal charges against them. They appeared in court again on Friday, 30 June 2023, for sentencing. The judgement was passed by a bench of five judges who found them guilty of “Trafficking and illicit possession of drugs (cocaine)”.
Mr Dangor expressed his dismay that the South African Embassy continues to be denied access to the detainees in violation of international law. The Government of Equatorial Guinea has failed in its obligation to formally notify DIRCO and grant consular access by the Embassy officials to the two South African nationals. He emphasised that such access is expressly required by Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, to which both States are parties despite numerous official requests in this regard.
The Director-General emphasised that the Government of Equatorial Guinea remains responsible for the welfare and safety of the South African citizens being held in their custody and expressed his willingness to have more direct and constructive cooperation with the relevant authorities regarding this matter.
DIRCO is ready and willing to advance bilateral relations with Equatorial Guinea. However, the continued denial of access to the two South African nationals in distress compromises the long-standing good bilateral relations between the two countries.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road