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Mozambican authorities on Monday detained two journalists in Sofala province, central Mozambique, on passive corruption charges, the Office for Combating Corruption [GCCC] in the province announced today.
According to Anastácio Matsinhe, spokesperson for the Anti-Corruption Office in Sofala, the detainees are Arsénio Sebastião, the correspondent for Deutsche Welle (DW), and Jorge Malangaze, a ‘freelancer’, and both are accused of having received bribes so as to not publishing content related to the violation of the rules of the state of emergency in a hotel establishment in Sofala province.
“They contacted the owner of the establishment and charged monetary values so that the reports on the establishment would not be displayed, and the owner made a complaint to the anti-corruption office. It is a crime of passive corruption for an illegal act,” said Anastácio Matsinhe.
The two reporters allegedly photographed and filmed the [unnamed] establishment “overcrowded and with people drinking alcohol at night”, violating the rules of the state of emergency, according to Arsénio Sebastião, DW correspondent and one of the accused.
The journalists would have then contacted the manager of the establishment for clarification, who in turn recommended that they speak to the owner: Manuel Ramessane, a deputy of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), the ruling party.
According to the spokesman for the Anti-Corruption Office in Sofala, the reporters blackmailed Manuel Ramissane, who was allegedly instructed by the authorities to pretend to accept bribing the two for them not to disclose the material.
The journalists reportedly received 5,000 meticais (63 euros) and were arrested in the act, according to the spokesman for the Office for Combating Corruption in Sofala.
Speaking to the media from the police station where he is being held, the DW correspondent Arcénio Sebastiao said that it was the owner of the establishment who took the initiative [to pay a bribe], considering that he was being the victim of an “ambush”.
“He put his hand in his pocket and gave us the money, so that we wouldn’t publish the information. We accepted, thinking that this was the ‘Nelinho’ [short for Manuel] from before. Suddenly, on our way out, 12 police officers appeared,” said the journalist about the meeting with the owner of the establishment.
Mozambique has been in a state of emergency since April 1, having been extended twice, until June 29.
During this period, the country lives with several restrictions: all schools are closed, spaces for entertainment and leisure are also closed, all types of events and crowds are forbidden and people are recommended to stay at home, if they do not have work or other essential matters to attend to.
By Tuesday, Mozambique had reported 453 Covid-19 cases, 136 recoveries and two deaths.