The Media and Yetwene

‘Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.’ Norman Mailer

The role the media plays in reporting hostage takings is pivotal and Yetwene was no exception. For the most part the newsmen the families dealt with were not only professional, but sympathetic and supportive. More importantly, as time went on, they were prepared to look beyond the speculation and sensationalism that had become the focus of the Yetwene attack, to the people actually involved.

But that was not always the case and Professor Andre Thomashausen, head of International Law at UNISA reminded the families in mid-2000 that while the media can be helpful in ensuring a situation will not be altogether and conveniently forgotten, they will always be interested first in what the story can do for them, rather than whether it will help the victims. It was something we as families grappled with often.

As with much of Angola’s wretched past, umpteen questions linger over Yetwene, but what is certain is that apart from the perpetrators, nobody knows for sure why the mine was targeted when there were others nearby.

For the media to speculate within days of the attack that Yetwene was targeted as ‘revenge’ for DiamondWorks’ past and associations with the Angolan government was irresponsible.… Read the rest

Emilie Amoguez reflects, as a wife and a mother

On November 8, 1998 that was the time when the Branch Energy/DiamondWorks at Yetwene Angola branch was attacked by UNITA rebels. My husband Wenefredo Amoguez was one of the missing men and was abducted by the Rebels. Me and my family was worried and sad, we keep on praying for his situation. My children worried so much about their father. At that time my eldest son Marc was 18 years old, Winard 17, Aimee 14, Ace 13, Jerico 11, and Joanna at 5. That time, I always think on how can I raise them since they are still in school, because we only depend on their father. I did not work. The worst thing we encounter is when the company stop sending us the salary of my husband it bothered me why the company stop sending us. In fact my husband is still on their possession. Almost 5 years we suffered so much. I had plenty of debts. Our house was foreclosed and some of my children can’t go to school anymore. And there was a time that my children got sick and I need to confined in the hospital and our food was always budgeted. How painful we’ve been through.… Read the rest

Collusion and Conspiracy of Silence

By 2001, it was fairly apparent that the attack on Yetwene was most likely a collaborative effort between UNITA forces in the area and elements of the local MPLA army. And an inside job in part.

Initial reports that the group that hit the mine were in an assortment of uniforms was the first tell-tale sign, yet for a long time UNITA were singled out and blamed for the attack.

Even so, mention of the word ‘collusion’ in the same sentence as Yetwene in the months and years that followed was often met with complete silence within Angola. It’s bizarre given the eyewitness accounts already in the public domain and the fact that journalists, academics and regional analysts had been writing about corruption in Angola and collusion between the warring parties for more than a decade when Yetwene was targeted – particularly in the anarchic Lundas where control and territory shifted frequently during the course of the war.

There are many theories as to why people in Angola don’t talk about the attack or don’t want to. The obvious one is that there is a conspiracy of silence – if the truth got out that the warring parties colluded in the attack, it could have dire implications for both sides. 

Read the rest