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A dispute between mining company Vale Mozambique and the community of Nhanchere, in the village of Moatize, has claimed the life of a 25-year-old man, Hussen António Laitone.
The incident happened on July 13, but was only reported by the Moatize weekly Malacha last Friday (14 June). The news then drew the attention of other national and international media, as well as civil society organisations.
Yesterday (20 June), Malacha editor Aparício de Nascimento was heard by the district police command of the Republic of Moçambique in Moatize to make statements about the report of the death of Hussen António.
Bullet causes death of 25-year-old man
Hussen António was shot in his home near the site of a protest organised by residents of the Nhanchere to demand access to the area concessioned to Vale, where they collect firewood and graze their livestock.
“The people in this neighbourhood survive on this forest, where they collect firewood and graze their livestock,” Noque Mário, a resident of the Nhanchere neighbourhood told DW Africa.
Mário adds that the trouble began when a company subcontracted by Vale Mozambique tried to close the population’s only access to the area. “They wanted to close it off, and the people began to react because they hadn’t been informed,” he says.
According to witnesses, the police were called to the scene and “their reaction was to start firing. As we were fleeing, a man who came to see what was going on and was eventually shot dead”, Noque Mario says.
Victim of a stray bullet?
The population in Moatize has been complaining of their land being usurped by mining companies since 2012. In 2015, Vale started fencing off the concession area itself, blocking access.
Julião Macajo, secretary of the Nhanchere neighbourhood , says that the popular protest was reasonable, saying that “[the company] should not close the area off because they were being left open following consultation between the company and the Government”.
Police spokeswoman Deolinda Matsinhe says that Hussen Antonio was the victim of a stray bullet. He leaves a widow and three young children.
In a statement released on July 17, Vale Moçambique denied any responsibility for António’s death. Vale reiterates that “The fencing of mining areas is a legal requirement,” Vale says, “and Vale has been blocking off the area where the incident occurred since 2013. One of the values of the company is ‘Life, above all’, and the fencing off of the area is essential to ensure the safety of the population itself”.
The population accuses the district and provincial government of doing nothing to restore the rights of the people affected by mining in Tete, namely those living in Moatize village, Cateme, Mualadzi, Capanga ((IVCL), Chirodzi and Cassoca (Jindal Africa).
DW Africa attempts to contact provincial authorities about the incident on Thursday (July 20) were unsuccessful.Source: Deutsche Welle