A South African mine worker kidnapped by militia in eastern Congo in July was released on Thursday, according to the official Twitter account of the province where he was taken.
Philippe Bota, who worked at Banro Corp’s Namoya gold mine in Maniema province, was abducted with three colleagues by Mai Mai rebels, the army said. The others, two Congolese and a Zimbabwean, were released after negotiations.
Photos published on the Maniema Twitter account showed a drawn, emotional Bota with long hair and a grey beard descending from a helicopter shaking hands with local dignitaries.
“Bota of South African nationality, held hostage, was released this Thursday after 41 days in the forest,” the account said, adding he was released following negotiations.
Stephane Kamundala, president of Maniema’s civil society, told Reuters no ransom was paid but Bota was released in exchange for a mining concession for the rebels.
Repeated attacks by the Mai Mai on Namoya and Banro’s Twangiza mine in South Kivu at one stage seemed to throw the company’s survival into question, although they continue to function.
East Congolese militias such as the Mai Mai exploit mineral resources since the end of a regional war in 2003 that killed millions, most from hunger and disease.
Only in the past three years have armed groups started taking hostages for ransom.