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Around 100 people gathered in the city of Beira, central Mozambique, on Saturday morning to march against the wave of kidnappings targeting businesspeople and their family members, in a type of public action that is rare and often suppressed in the country.
“With every kidnapping, a family is destroyed,” stated one of the banners held by the demonstrators, two days after the latest kidnapping.
The victim is the 19-year-old daughter of a commercial businessman in Beira, kidnapped by unidentified armed men in broad daylight just outside a university in the city.
On Saturday, the march covered part of the city of Beira, with the police escorting the participants as opposed to stopping the action, as has happened to similar events, alleging bureaucratic precepts and later being reprimanded by the government and the Attorney General’s Office.
“Each one of us lives terrified, terrified and restless, fearing for our turn. In the student community, when a victim is released and back home, we ask ourselves who will be next, not who is the culprit,” said Sayfallah Karim, a student representative on the march which brought together university teachers and members of the city’s business community
“This march is very important to motivate the authorities to stop this wave of kidnappings. Tomorrow it could be our daughters and sisters and this worries us,” said Fazel Giva, representative of the ‘Anti-Raptos Beira’ anti-abduction movement created by civil society in Beira.
“These kidnappings will have a harmful effect on investment,” Professor Ibraimo Mussagy, one of the university professors on the march, pointed out.
In an assessment of crime presented on April 27, Attorney General of the Republic of Mozambique Beatriz Buchili said that kidnapping had been increasing, with the criminal gangs involved having cross-border connections, with cells in countries such as South Africa.
According to Beatriz Buchili, 14 criminal kidnappings were registered in 2021, against 18 in 2020, but there are other cases not included in official statistics, the majority of which never came to light.
The Attorney General also said that the “abduction victims” are “constantly blackmailed” by the kidnappers, even after being released, and continue paying them money, aggravating their feeling of insecurity.
In March, the Attorney General had also warned of police complicity, saying: ″We cannot continue to have cases of armed robberies, kidnappings, rapes, perpetrated by some individuals who join the National Criminal Investigation Service [SERNIC].”