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The journalist, lawyer and political analyst Ericino de Salema was abducted early on Tuesday afternoon (27) outside the National Union of Journalists (SNJ) by strangers who tied him up and beat him before abandoning him in Marracuene.
This was the 12th in a series of apparently politically motivated attacks in Mozambique, starting in March 2015 with the still-unsolved murder of constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac.
Salema had just had lunch at a restaurant located on the SNJ’s facilities at the corner of 24 de Juliho and Orlando Magumbwe Avenues, next to the Ministries of Education and Tourism. He was approached at around 1:30 p.m. by two individuals who cornered him as he opened the boot of his chauffeur-driven car.
Witnesses told A Verdade that the young journalist was forced by two unidentified men into a Toyota-brand car with tinted windows and no license plate, which had arrived in the vicinity several hours earlier. The vehicle drove off towards Orlando Magumbwe Avenue.
About an hour after Salema’s driver reported the crime to police at the Julius Nyerere police station, the journalist’s wife, who had gone to the scene of the abduction, learned by phone that Ericino had been dumped on the Maputo Ring Road near Marracuene.
Salema had received threats for his political comments and for giving advice to Renamo.
A Verdade found that a group of children had surprised two individuals beating up the bound journalist on a dirt road and raised the alarm. Locals promptly took to the place, and the criminals fled.
Witnesses reported that Salema had abrasions to his abdomen and was unable to walk unaided. He first asked for water and then for help contacting his wife.
While the police, friends and colleagues went to the scene of the assault, the locals obtained the help of a motorist who drove Salema to a private hospital in his station wagon.
@Verdade has established that the journalist had been receiving threats to his safety for several days, apparently related to comments he had made on a commercial television programme and legal advice he had given Renamo regarding changes to the constitution.
Although the police have said they are pursuit of the two criminals, it is paradoxical that De Salema’s kidnapping was so similar to that of another political analyst working on the same political commentary programme, the academic José Jaime Macuane, who, on May 23, 2016 was abandoned in practically the same location on the Maputo Ring Road, having been shot five times in an incident which police have still not clarified.
Waiting for news on De Salema’s condition, Professor Macuane said he felt “disgust, deep indignation and embarrassment over this act because it seems to signal that, in this country, we must either submit to injustice or be subjected to violence”.
“My question is: are we in an independent country? Are we in a country that fought for freedom? Are we condemned to be slaves in a country that has been called independent for 43 years? Is this what we want for our country? We have to shut up? We cannot we say what we feel? Can we not be outraged when people close to us, when our compatriots, suffer injustice? Can we not be indignant when those who govern us, those whom we elect, do something that is not what they were supposed to do while our servants? Is that the message they want to send with this barbarous, shameful, ignominious, inhuman, repulsive, act? Is that right?” Macuane asked.
“We have to fight so that in our country this kind of thing does not happen, so that nobody is a victim of this violence, even if we have to die!”
This was the 12th politically motivated attack in Mozambique – Salema was not robbed. The police have not clarified any one of them to date.
The first of these crimes, documented in the most recent Human Rights Watch Report, was the assassination of constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac, who was shot dead outside a cafe in central Maputo on 3 March, 2015.
On 16 January, 2016, Renamo general secretary Manuel Bissopo was shot in the centre of Beira.
On 4 February, 2016, senior party official Renamo Filipe Jonasse Machatine was found dead with eight gunshot wounds in Gondola, Manica province, two days after being abducted by unidentified men.
On 7 March, 2016, a senior Renamo party official in Inhambane province, Aly Jane, was found dead after going missing four days earlier. His body, found near the Nhanombe River, between the districts of Maxixe and Homoíne, showed signs of violence.
José Manuel, a member of the Renamo party and the National Defence and Security Council, was shot dead on April 9, 2016, a near Beira International Airport just after arriving from Maputo.
On 22 June, 2016, the body of a senior Manica Frelimo officer, José Fernando Nguiraze, was found with bullet wounds in his house by neighbours.
On 2 September, 2016, Jorge Abilio, the administrator of Tica in the Nhamatanda district of Sofala province, was murdered by gunmen whom police identified as Renamo fighters.
On 22 September, 2016, the top Renamo party official in Moatize district and a member of the local Tete provincial assembly, Armindo Nkutche, died after being shot six times on the street a few hours after he had addressed the assembly’s closing session.
On 8 October, 2016, came the assassination of Renamo member Jeremias Pondeca, one of a team preparing a meeting between President Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. Pondeca was shot dead on his morning run.
The most recent apparently politically motivated crime happened on the most recent Day of Peace, October 4, 2017, and the victim was MDM member and president of the Nampula municipality, Mahamudo Amurane, who was shot dead outside his house by men also still unidentified.
Standing up to this criminality is the driving force behind victims, who will not be silenced.
“We must fight so that this kind of thing does not happen in our country, so that no-one is a victim of this violence, even if we have to die! Because life as it has become in this country is not worth preserving,” Professor Macuane says.
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