A KwaZulu-Natal mother whose son has died in the insurgency attacks in Palma in northern Mozambique says he was shot while trying to escape to safety. 40-year-old Adrian Nel was killed on Friday while in a getaway vehicle with his brother and father, leaving the Amarula Lodge Hotel. He was killed in an ambush, allegedly by an ISIS linked group.

Nel’s mother, Meryl Knox from Zinkwazi north of Durban, says the family had been in the area for work. She explains how she heard of her son’s death.

“Late on Friday afternoon, a convoy of them tried to escape from the Amarula. As they were leaving the insurgents ambushed them and my son was shot. And we had no word. On Friday night our company in Johannesburg, the manager there phoned me early on Saturday morning and said, unfortunately, Adrian had been shot and killed but Greg and Wesley were safe. I don’t know if he died instantly. They sat with him all night and when they were rescued on Saturday morning they managed to bring his body with them.”

A number of expatriates are believed to be missing. Knox says her younger son is expected to return to South Africa tomorrow.

My husband isn’t going to leave Pemba until they’ve released Adrian’s body and I have spoken to the guy in the High Commission in Maputo who will help with the paperwork to get this done quickly. Nobody is getting any verified information so I hope it puts pressure on Mozambique to allow other people to go in there and help and that the missing guys can be located.”

Meryl Knox spoke about her son in an interview with SABC News

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old South African who went missing after the attack in Palma has been found. According to his mother, he is tired but healthy.

Authorities underprepared

Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Dewa Mavhinga says the attacks in Palma, in the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, indicate that authorities have been underprepared and given insufficient priority to the incidents.

Mavhinga says that there have been other attacks that have been happening in other towns.

A number of South Africans appear to have escaped an ambush.

Mozambique’s government had said that security forces were working to restore order in Palma, which is adjacent to gas projects worth close to R1 trillion after it came under a three-pronged attack on Wednesday.

Many South Africans, as well as, people from other countries are employed at the massive gas facility.

“Generally, there hasn’t been priority given to these attacks, and to the security situation in Cabo Delgado because this has been happening in different towns and in fact just before these attacks in Cabo there was a sense that Cabo was secure and safe and it seemed that this daring and audacious attack was a way of sending out a statement of the capacity of this group to disrupt and cause mass damage. The killings and the shootings recorded have been indiscriminate in a way and the unlawful targeting of civilians so it’s a clear sign that this is escalating, it’s not getting better. Perhaps Mozambican authorities have been underprepared and given insufficient priority to this urgent crisis,” says Mavhinga.

Mavhinga says witnesses have confirmed that this attack was carried out by Al-Shabaab.

Human Rights Watch has urged Mozambique authorities to take urgent measures to protect civilians fleeing an armed group in the town of Palma.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been meeting with the security cluster amid reports that a South African was among those killed in fighting around the gas hub town of Palma.

Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga spoke to SABC News