Mozambique's International
Relations with South Africa

Dossier MZ-0007, part 16


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16. South Africa Still Not a Good Neighbour
in 1992; and the Yacht Coralita
Flees Mozambican Jurisdiction

Panorama of Maputo Port and Harbour

Above: A panoramic view of Maputo port, mainly commercial in character. The 40-foot yacht Coralita commanded by Alan Ubsdell, was arrested and detained in Maputo in the small vessel harbour, after being accused of diving illegally for salvage. In mid-January Ubsdell managed to slip away under cover of darkness in what the South African press described as a “daring escape”.

It was clear during the year that South Africa had not yet learned how to behave in an entirely appropriate neighbourly fashion, despite growing economic cooperation. For instance, the US Defence Intelligence Agency published a report in March that concluded that South Africa had still been supplying RENAMO by helicopter at least as late as February 1991. There were also reports of the SADF using a former Mozambican soldier to carry out political assassinations in South Africa; and Mozambique (as well as other countries in the region) protested over illegal military overflights of national airspace by the South African armed forces.

South African companies began to take advantage of the newly accessible business opportunities in Mozambique, in such diverse sectors as the hotel and hospitality industry, cattle breeding, ship-building, and various small-scale enterprises. In August an SAIIA delegation was in Maputo on a fact-finding mission, hoping to improve private sector cooperation, and Pascoal Mocumbi and Pik Botha signed an agreement establishing trade offices in the two countries.

However, headlines at the beginning of 1992 focused on the much more dramatic arrest and subsequent dramatic escape from Maputo harbour of a South African yacht, the Coralita, from which divers had apparently been salvaging valuable metals such as brass and silver, from wrecks off the Mozambican coast, in what amounted, if proven, to acts of piracy. The captain of the vessel turned out to be in trouble in South Africa as well, being under investigation for a range of offences.

MHN Resources

Consolidated Downloadable Zipped Files

Click on the yellow folder image below to download a zipped file of the sixteenth of a series of dossiers on South Africa-Mozambique relations. The archive covers the year 1992, and contains 39 documents. New items will be added from time to time: this edition of the dossier is dated 23 October 2021.

Zipped file image