Maputa - A company jointly-owned by South Africans is suspected of selling a Mozambican island illegally off the country's northern coast, according to media reports on Friday.
Mozambique's prosecuting authority was investigating the company, owned by two South Africans and a Mozambican national, for advertising to sell Congo Island in Cabo Delgado province for $900 000 (R6.8m), reported independent weekly Savana.
All land in Mozambique was government-owned. It could only be leased for set periods of time, with renewable periods afterwards.
The selling of the 7.25 million square meter island would therefore be illegal. It was advertised on the International Real Estate Listings website on June 6, the newspaper reported.
Part of the Quirimbas island chain, Congo island was home to 211 people, most of them fishermen unaware their island was for sale.
“We saw some whites climb off a boat, but they did not talk to anyone,” one of the locals told state newspaper Noticias.
The company was granted a permit to exploit the island for tourism purposes in 2008. Foreigners could only lease land for two years at a time. The company's permit would expire in September. No developments had been made since the initial granting of the lease.
The Mozambican coast was popular with South African holiday-makers. Many South Africans managed or owned resorts on the country's pristine beaches.