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Ex-mercenary pilot and police officer killed in Cabo Delgado plane crash

The South African pilot had previously flown missions for the private military contractor Dyck Advisory Group for the Mozambican police in 2020, but was no longer working for DAG

The cockpit of a Bat Hawk microlight, the light aircraft which crashed in Macomia last week. "Bat Hawk LSA Cockpit" by Micro Aviation is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

A Mozambican police officer and a South African pilot were killed when their light aircraft crashed in Macomia district in Cabo Delgado province last week.

The South African pilot was Mark Tout, Zitamar News can reveal, who had previously flown missions for the private military contractor Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) when it was contracted by the Mozambican police force to provide air cover for counterinsurgency operations in 2020.

It is unclear whether Tout and the Mozambican police officer, whom Zitamar has not yet identified, were taking part in an aerial assault that was carried out on the Mucojo administrative post starting on Friday 5 April, and lasting most of last week.

Tout was flying a Bat Hawk, a South African-made microlight used mostly for reconnaissance, often by wildlife conservation organisations. It was the same model as he had flown for DAG, and crashed, in 2020. A DAG spokesperson told Zitamar News that Tout had not worked for DAG since 2020, and that last week’s mission had “nothing to do with us”.

Two sources told Zitamar News they believed that Tout and the police officer were carrying a PKM machine gun on the aircraft, likely operated by the police officer. The PKM is a medium weapon, usually fired on a mounting and not hand-held. It was unclear if the aircraft was downed by enemy fire, or if it was an accident caused by bad weather.

A flight operated by a conservation body located the crash site a day or two afterwards and saw the two bodies, Zitamar understands. The bodies have not yet been recovered.

It is unclear if the police’s use of a private military contractor was coordinated with Mozambique’s Ministry of National Defence. The Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the national police force, has seen its role in the conflict in Cabo Delgado reduce over recent years.

A police spokesperson contacted by Zitamar on Tuesday had not provided any comment by the time of publishing.

This article was produced by Zitamar News under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with Mediafax and ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.