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Notícias / The parliamentary commission in Gorongosa
Mozambique’s parliamentary commission on constitutional and legal affairs and human rights has concluded that there is no mass grave in Gorongosa district, in the central province of Sofala.
Based on testimony from local peasants who requested anonymity, Andre Catueira, a Mozambican stringer for the Portuguese news agency Lusa, reported the alleged existence of a mass grave on 28 April. The story was widely reproduced in local and foreign media, but the Gorongosa district administrator, Manuel Jamaca, promptly denied that there was any mass grave in his district.
The parliamentary commission embarked on an investigation, and on Tuesday visited Canda, the area in Gorongosa where the mass grave was supposedly located. According to the chairperson of the commission, Edson Macuacua, cited by the independent television station STV, nobody whom the commission members spoke to confirmed the existence of any such grave.
He said the commission spoke to local regulos (chiefs) and community leaders, and interviewed Canda residents at random.
“This was our way of establishing the facts, and it leads us to state absolutely that there is no mass grave in Gorongosa”, Macuacua declared. “The question posed now: where did this information come from, and who are these peasants cited by Lusa?”
Naturally, Catueira and the Lusa delegate in Maputo, Henrique Botiquilha, will not reveal the identity of their sources, and in this the Mozambican legislation on the media is on their side.
Macuacua added that the Commission noted there were genuine violations of human rights in Gorongosa committed by gunmen of the rebel movement Renamo. One clear example was that Renamo had shot and injured the head of the Canda administrative post who is currently recovering from his injuries in Beira Central Hospital.
As from Saturday, the commission will work in the neighbouring province of Manica. Here, in Macossa district, Catueira and other reporters last month came across evidence, if not exactly of a mass grave, certainly of mass murder.
Bodies were found dumped in the Macossa bush, just a few hundred metres from Canda. Conflicting figures have been given. STV, which filmed the bodies, said there were 13. But when the police buried the decomposing bodies, they said they only found eleven.
To date nobody knows who these victims were, who killed them or why.
Only members from the ruling Frelimo Party, and from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) are taking part in the Commission’s investigation. Its Renamo members are boycotting its work.