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Five Mozambican policemen were detained on Monday morning, accused of facilitating a criminal scheme to steal 10,000 litres of diesel at the Lingamo fuel terminal in the southern city of Matola, according to a report in Thursday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
Ironically, these policemen had been sent to protect the terminal precisely because of repeated thefts of fuel.
The criminals drove vehicles into the Matola port area, broke into pipelines carrying the diesel, and siphoned it into containers.
The policemen now detained claimed they knew nothing about the theft, and did not even see the cars moving around the terminal. “I know nothing about the theft”, one of them said. “I don’t know what time the cars came in. None of the team saw any movement”.
A second police agent said she had fallen asleep at her post. “When they woke me up, they told me I had to get into the car, and I thought I was being taken to the chief because I was sleeping on duty. I had no idea what had happened. It was cold that night. I didn’t resist and I fell asleep. I didn’t take part in this crime, and I don’t know what happened”.
But the Maputo provincial police command has no doubt that the five policemen were involved in facilitating the theft.
“We found the vehicles inside the terminal, carrying 9,770 litres of diesel”, said police spokesperson Emidio Mabunda. “These police agents were there to protect the area, but instead of doing their duty, they took part in the theft. Right now we are working to identify the owners of the vehicles”.
During the police operation, the owners of the vehicles abandoned them and fled. But they left behind documents and mobile phones, through which the police may be able to identify them.
A second police spokesperson, Juarce Martins, said “It isn’t possible for unknown persons to enter the port premises and steal so much fuel without the connivance and facilitation of the police agents. Certainly someone opened the gates for them”.
“In the police force, we don’t want people who are pretending to be police”, said Martins. “We want policemen who are committed to guaranteeing public order and to fighting crime”.
Stealing fuel can be a hazardous business. On 13 December 2015, there was a raid on the fuel terminal by thieves using fishing boats. The theft went badly wrong when the fuel caught fire, killing at least 17 of the thieves, destroying seven of their boats, and causing extensive damage to the port.
Policemen supposedly guarding the port were also complicit in this theft.Source: AIM