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Long-distance motorists on roads once subjected to mandatory escorts by the Mozambican army in Manica and Sofala provinces are now complaining of extortion by the military, a trend on the rise since the beginning of the truce.
Motorists report illicit collections of money by Defence and Security Forces personnel in the Save-Muxúnguè and Nhamapadza-Caia sections in Sofala and Vanduzi-Changara in Manica, allegedly for the purchase of water, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.
Last week, a supposedly intoxicated armed soldier was killed when he attempted to stop a freight truck at midnight on the N1 in Machanga district, an area where armed attacks on Renamo often used to occur.
Several motorists have told VOA they have being stopped by armed soldiers who have asked for money, and say they were threatened when they refused to pay on the grounds that the charges were unfair and unlawful.
“It’s dangerous when someone drunk armed with a gun comes up to you and asks for water,” one motorist said, backed up by another who added that “extortion on the road continues, and they order us to stop and ask for water, cigarettes, money and ‘crédito’ (mobile phone airtime recharges). And this is repeated on several section of the road”.
Sofala police spokeswoman Sididi Paulo would not confirm extortion on the roads, but admitted that a soldier had died after being run over on the N1 when he tried to stop a lorry at night.
“Yes, we confirmed a running-over in Machanga district. The driver tried to help but the soldier was dead when he got to the hospital,” Paulo said.
Motorists are demanding discipline in the military and have called for their withdrawal from the roads as the country observes the fourth period of the 60-day truce declared by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, ending military hostilities in the central region of Mozambique.Source: Voa Portugues