Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Abductions, police graft charges stress Mozambican leader

Bloomberg

A spate of kidnappings in the Mozambican capital, alleged police involvement in organized crime and routine harassment of foreigners are giving Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi what he describes as sleepless nights.

The suspected kidnapping of a man last week in the capital, Maputo, was the ninth this year — after 30 last year.

Nyusi, who took office in January, has indicated that he has had enough.

“The news of police [officers] who join the ranks of the criminals, particularly when I am told that they have the necessary training so as not to commit the crimes they have embraced, deprives me of sleep,” he said when he addressed a parade last month in Maputo marking the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Mozambican police force.

Nyusi is planning to replace state police General Commander Jorge Khalau and is expected to tap Jose Weng San, head of the border protection unit, to take over, the Maputo-based Savana newspaper reported on May 29.

Police spokesman Pedro Cossa declined to comment by telephone on Friday last week.

“Expect changes in the leadership of intelligence and police units,” Nigel Morgan, executive chairman at risk management agency Focus Africa, said in an interview in Maputo. “The real irritant to foreigners is the persistent harassment by police. It is not just tourists — visiting [businesspeople] and foreign embassies are tired of them, too.”

Even a record seizure of poached ivory and rhino horn valued at US$19 million on May 12 has turned into an embarrassment. Police admitted two weeks later that at least 12 of 65 rhino horns had disappeared from guarded storerooms.

Police have yet to contradict reports that all the rhino horns have vanished. At least four officers have been detained since the bounty — which would have required the deaths of at least 235 animals — started to go missing.

“When policemen are caught in the gangs trafficking in rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks and various drugs, or facilitate these same crimes, I am unable to sleep,” the state-run AIM news agency quoted Nyusi as saying at the police parade.

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