Playboy Teddy’s SA “hostages” in Equatorial Guinea

This month (February) one year ago two South African engineers were arrested in Equatorial Guinea under the guise of illegal drug trafficking. It is believed that their detention was in retaliation for the seizure in South Africa of two luxury properties and a super yacht belonging to the country’s playboy Vice-President “Teddy” Obiang. Frik Potgieter (54) and Peter Huxham (55) were subsequently convicted and sentenced to 12-years’ imprisonment. They were also fined “damages” of $5 million each and additional fines to be shared between them.  Their families are “deeply disappointed that the South African government has not sought to prioritise the illegal and arbitrary detention of two of its citizens over its current high-profile international diplomacy efforts”. Their families are pleading with the Government to help secure their release. In this interview with BizNews, Frik’s wife, Sonja, and Peter’s fiancé, Kathy McConnachie, share their trauma.Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Intro 
  • 01:00 – Peter’s fiancé, Kathy McConnachie on how many times she’s been able to see her husband since the arrest
  • 01:29 – Has he been holding up
  • 02:41 – Her optimism
  • 03:11 – Her belief that he never smuggled drugs
  • 03:43 – His character
  • 04:19 – How long has he worked at the company
  • 05:29 – What assistance have you been receiving from the South African Department of International Relations 
  • 06:19 – Are you able to write to Peter? Can you can you get letters to him or not
  • 07:48 – Frik Potgieter’s wife Sonja on the impact of his imprisonment on her family
  • 08:45 – On the other trauma they’ve had to deal with
  • 10:15 – The minimal communication she’s had with him
  • 10:54 – How is he holding up
  • 11:26 – what support have you received from the South African government to secure their release
  • 12:46 – Why she feels her husband is essentially a hostage caught in the crossfire and not a prisoner who is serving time for a crime
  • 13:27 – what are they doing from their side now
  • 14:43 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

This month (February) one year ago two South African engineers were arrested in Equatorial Guinea under the guise of illegal drug trafficking.

It is believed that their detention was in retaliation for the seizure in South Africa of two luxury properties and a super yacht belonging to the country’s playboy Vice-President “Teddy” Teodore Nguema Obiang Mangue. 

Frederik (Frik) Potgieter (54) and Peter Huxham (55, a dual SA / UK citizen) were subsequently convicted and sentenced to 12-years’ imprisonment. They were also fined “damages” of $5 million each and additional fines to be shared between them. 

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This after their trial was marked by “numerous irregularities” with no witnesses or expert evidence being presented to the court, nor any proof that the alleged drugs were found on the two men.

They are currently being held in a prison – reserved for political prisoners – in Mongomo.

However, their families believe that they are “innocent men caught in the crossfire”.

Moreover, their families are “deeply disappointed that the South African government has not sought to prioritise the illegal and arbitrary detention of two of its citizens over its current high-profile international diplomacy efforts”.


“Frik and Peter are hostages being held by foreign power. These two men are in the situation that they are in because of an international dispute between South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.  Frik and Peter were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Judging by events over the past month, specifically at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) it is very clear to us that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has the authority, leadership and capabilities required to intervene on an international level.  The sad reality, however, is that they have done very little to assist their own citizens, and besides being heartbreaking, this alone should be of grave concern to any South African who travels for work,” says Potgieter family spokesperson Shaun Murphy.

Kathy McConnachie, the fiancé of Peter Huxham and his life partner for the past 30 years, says the last time she saw Peter was on the 3rd of January last year when he left for Equatorial Guinea for work.

“I’ve spoken to him twice…the first time he was extremely emotional. I was also a little bit in the beginning, but then I grabbed onto my psychology treatment that I’ve been having and I was stronger than him and just listened to him and he proposed to me in all the tears…so we’ve got a marriage coming up when he gets home eventually.”

McConnachie has no doubt that the drug trafficking charge was trumped up. “Peter’s very anti-drug in the first place. And no, I’ve never, ever seen Peter with drugs…”

Asked what assistance they have been receiving from the South African Department of International Relations, DIRCO, McConnachie says: “Very, very little. And I know it’s in their capability to help and to get them home. It’s, you know, if you can get involved with overseas, other countries, war crisis, I’m sure you can get involved with Peter and Frik. Basically, it’s in their capabilities. So, yes, I believe they can if they want to.”

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Frik Potgieter’s wife Sonja says: “It’s just been an emotional roller coaster…I think it’s because we don’t speak to each other. There was not a day that passed that we did not speak to each other every day. So yeah, it’s been very hard, especially on my daughter. She’s in her last years of studying, so she needs a dad…my dad had a stroke in December and unfortunately passed away on the 5th of January. I had to bury him without a Frik and they were close, they were very close…and his favourite dog as well, I had to put her down a week ago. She had cancer in her pancreas…”

So far Frik’s family have received only five letters in which he urged her not to give up and to “just keep fighting for their innocence”.

As for the South African government’s lack of support for them, Sonja says:  “I haven’t received any phone call from the government since the 9th of February. So I don’t even know if they know my cell phone number. So they said they will be in contact with me, but…I think I received one email from the government just saying, oh, please be patient. We haven’t received anything yet. That’s all. And I wish they would do more because I am really disappointed in the South African government and for me, I’m not proud to be a South African at this stage because they’ve let us down.”

Asked why she feels her husband is essentially a hostage caught in the crossfire and not a prisoner who is serving time for a crime, she says: “He’s such a soft, loving person, he’s a family man. And what was happening before the capture, I don’t know, I think it’s, if you connect the dots, it was staged, because he’s not that type of person.”

Francois Nigrini, the spokesperson for the Huxham family,  adds: “It is time they are brought home, as it is now a year that has been ‘stolen’ from Peter and Frik’s lives on earth with their families and friends. As the families, we are desperately looking to our Government and the relevant Departments, to use their expertise and position to engage with their counterparts in Equatorial Guinea, in order to bring home two innocent South Africans, and end the pain being experienced by them and their families and friends. They are hostages, their incarceration is not their fault, but even worse, there is nothing they can do to secure their own release – it is only the South African Government who can do this.” 

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