SINDIKA Dokolo, the Congolese businessman and art collector husband of Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, has died in a diving accident in Dubai, a colleague and two family members said on Friday.
They said the exact cause of the 48-year-old’s death on Thursday was not clear.
Dokolo and dos Santos, the daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos who ruled Angola for 38 years until 2017, faced corruption charges, including allegations that they steered $1 billion in state funds to companies in which they held stakes during her father’s presidency.
Dokolo and Isabel dos Santos have both denied wrongdoing.
Angolan authorities seized their accounts late last year.
A colleague and friend of Dokolo, Cedric Mala, confirmed his death on Friday. Isabel dos Santos has not commented, but on Thursday posted a photo of her and Dokolo on Twitter.
Two close family members also confirmed the news but spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I am shocked and devastated by the death of my brother, friend and collaborator Sindika Dokolo,” Mala told Reuters.
He said that Dokolo had years of diving experience and that he always spoke passionately about it.
“Unfortunately the last outing was fatal,” he said. “The doctors tried to resuscitate him without success.”
The ever stylishly dressed Dokolo was influential in the art world and owned a large collection of contemporary African work.
He was also active in politics in Democratic Republic of Congo where in 2017 he founded the “Congolese Stand Up” movement which opposed a third term for then-President Joseph Kabila, who stepped down in 2019 after 18 turbulent years in power.
“Respects to (Sindika Dokolo) for his contribution to the fight for the freedom and dignity of the Congolese people, and for safeguarding African identity and cultural heritage,” prominent Congolese pro-democracy group Lucha said on Twitter on Friday. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.