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Son of missing Mauritius boat captain proud of dad

Yasine Mohabuth

Port Louis, Mauritius

Irfan Mizraim Bheenick
Irfan Mizraim Bheenick
Captain Moswadeck Bheenick is seen with his family in this file photo

The son of a boat captain missing since Monday evening after his vessel capsized while taking part in clean-up operations in Mauritius following July's huge oil spill says he is proud of his dad.

Three sailors died and four were rescued, while search operations are continuing for Captain Moswadeck Bheenick - the only crew member still missing.

Their tugboat had been towing an unmanned barge back from the spill site in rough seas when the collision between them happened.

The Japanese-owned MV Wakashio struck a coral reef on 25 July, and spilled about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil into the coast.

“My strong, sturdy dad knows his stuff there. He is not a reckless person. No matter what happened to him, I am proud he has done his duty as the captain to leave the boat as the last person," 20-year-old Irfan Mizraim Bheenick told the BBC.

“My father wanted to help Mauritius, it is unfair what happened and there are many things which are fishy," he added.

Reports say that the captain and other sailors had judged it inappropriate to tow the barge during the night to the capital Port-Louis because waves as high as six metres had been observed.

“My dad’s colleagues also called me saying they were pressured to leave," Irfan said.

The authorities have not yet commented on the allegation.

Irfan is studying to be a pilot in South Africa, and regrets not being able to return to Mauritius because of his exams and Covid-19 restrictions.

“I wanted to come back home but with borders closed and Covid-19, I’m stranded in South Africa leaving my mum and sister alone in Mauritius.”

“I would like to make my father's dream come true even more today, to become a pilot,” he added.

Search and rescue helicopter flies over the site of the collision off Mauritius on 31 August 2020
Reuters
Search and rescue teams, along with fishermen, have been combing the area for the missing captain

Fishermen said they found fuel oil residues in the lagoon on Thursday morning, three days after the tugboat sank.

It was carrying 25 tonnes of diesel for its own use, and had lubricating oil in the engine.

The ministry of environment said "no impact on the shoreline, lagoon and the mangrove areas" has been noticed since the tugboat capsized.

The area contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.

Many Mauritians believe the government could have done more to prevent the spill. There is also criticism over the decision to deliberately sink part of the ship after it split in two.

Zambia politician demands $3m over corruption claims

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema
Getty Images
Hakainde Hichilema has ambitions to become president

Zambia's main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has demanded $3m (£2.3m) from former finance minister Edith Nawakwi after accusing her of falsely linking him to corruption during the privatisation of state agencies in the 1990s.

Ms Nawakwi, now an opposition politician, alleged that Mr Hichilema had used his position as a consultant during the privatisation programme to amass wealth.Mr Hichilema has denied any wrongdoing.

His lawyers have written to Ms Nawakwi to demand an apology and a retraction by Thursday, failing which they will go to court.

The lawyers said the allegations had damaged Mr Hichilema's reputation as a businessman and as someone who aspires to be Zambia’s president.

“Our client is amenable to receiving reasonable proposals as to how you intend to settle the said sum,” their letter to Ms Nawakwi said.Ms Nawakwi has not yet responded to the demand.

She previously vowed to continue talking about Mr Hichilema’s role in the privatisation exercise.

Information minister and government spokesperson Dora Siliya has said the government was “disturbed” by the allegations and was “studying” the matter.

Nearly half of all girls in Malawi are married before turning 18

Almost ten per cent get married before their 15th birthday, according to Unicef.
About 46 per cent of girls in Malawi are married before the legal age of 18 and almost ten per cent get married before their 15th birthday, according to the United Nation's Children's Charity Unicef. 

School closures as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown may have contributed to a rise in child marriages, says Malawi Minister of Gender Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati. She has been travelling across the country trying to reverse the trend and have child marriages annulled. 

The harmful practice is often associated with poor education, lack of employment opportunities and the belief that girls are inferior to boys. 

(Photo: A mother and child in Malawi. Credit: Science Photo Library)

IS-linked militants 'kill' Nigerian troops

Ishaq Khalid

BBC News, Abuja

Screen grab from previous Iswap video (2015)
AFP
A faction of Boko Haram is loyal to the Islamic State group

The jihadist group Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) has said its fighters killed at least 10 Nigerian soldiers in the town of Magumeri in the north-east.

Security sources have confirmed the attack, but not the death toll.

Reports suggest the militants arrived in several trucks fitted with machine-guns and overran the army's positions.

Iswap also said 10 Nigerian troops were killed in an ambush on Tuesday near the fishing town of Baga.

The Nigerian military has not commented on the attacks but said on the same day its fighter jets and helicopter gunships had killed a number of jihadists in another area of Borno State.

Iswap is an offshoot of Boko Haram, and pledges loyalty to the Islamic State (IS) group.

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